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You Are Not Alone

Chapter Text

Thank Sam Tyler had only gone down to the basement of Hunt's to turn in the day's income. He needed to get out of there quickly; he had a date scheduled with Annie tonight. He knocked impatiently on the door of Skelton's office, but there was no answer. Then, he heard a door slam.

What? The blondish-brunette in the black hoodie raced to the double doors at the end and tugged hard at the handles. But the doors didn't budge. "Are you kidding me?" he muttered in annoyance, but with a touch of panic in his voice. Would he be locked in overnight?

It was then that Sam heard a loud creak from behind him. He whipped his head around, but saw no one. "Is that someone mucking about?" he called, trying to sound composed. If there was someone down there, he really didn't need to let them know he was scared.

He was met with creepy silence. Sam took a few tentative steps forward. "Who is it?" he demanded. Sam looked around, but still saw no one. It was just him and the plastic mannequins the store had down here in storage (why did Hunt's need so many dummies anyway, he wondered). Still…Sam had the eerie feeling that he was being watched.

Over his shoulder, Sam heard another loud creak. He turned around again.

A dummy, wearing dark jeans and a black pinstripe shirt, standing in the corner, had turned its head. Its blank, terra cotta eyes were boring into him.

The dummy then began moving, walking toward him. Sam gave a nervous chuckle. "'Kay. You got me, very funny."

But the dummy kept coming. "Right, I've got the joke," he said, a bit louder this time. He backed away from the walking plastic. "Whose idea was this?" he called as more mannequins began slowly stalking him. "Is it Ray's? Is it? Ray, is this you?"

Sam tripped over a box. He picked himself up quickly. Now, most of the mannequins in the room were creeping toward him. This here, this is the stuff of nightmares, thought Sam, and felt his back press up against the concrete wall. Oh no.

The mannequins stopped. The dummy directly in front of him raised his arm, about to strike. Sam gasped and squeezed his eyes shut.

Suddenly, he felt someone take his hand. Someone human. Sam's eyes popped open and looked up at the owner of the hand.

"Run!" said the man.

Sam didn't need to be told twice.


Sam and the mysterious man ran out of the basement, hand in hand, the plastic creatures hot on their heels. They made it onto the lift, and the man quickly pressed the "close door" button. One of the mannequins managed to get his arm through, and the man wrestled with it. The man pulled the arm off, disconnecting it from the rest of its body. The doors of the lift rolled shut.

Sam didn't quite know what to say after all that had transpired in the last five minutes. So he said what came to his mind first: "You pulled his arm off."

"Yep," replied the other man with a Manchester accent. He tossed it to Sam. "Plastic."

"Very clever, nice trick," said Sam, drudging up a weak laugh. His breath was still heavy from the sprint they'd made to escape the mannequins. His heart was racing. "Who were they, then? Students? Is this a student thing or what?"

"Why would it be students?" asked the other man.

"I don't know," said Sam, shrugging.

"Well, you said it. Why students?" the man persisted.

"'Cause…to get that many people dressed up and being silly, they've got to be students," Sam replied, trying to rationalize it all.

The man finally turned around, and Sam saw his face properly. He was tall, about six foot, and had broad shoulders and short dark hair, like a soldier or something. His clothes were dark: a black leather jacket, a maroon jumper, and dark jeans. His nose was beak shaped, and his ears were rather large. However, the man was nonetheless attractive; his eyes were a pleasant shade of blue, and when he turned around, he was grinning. "That makes sense," said the man. "Well done."

"Thanks."

"They're not students," said the man.

"Well, whoever they are, when Skelton finds them, he's gonna call the police," said Sam.

"Who's Skelton?" asked the man.

"Chief electrician."

"Skelton's dead," said the man, as the door to the lift opened. The man got off, and Sam followed. Who the hell was this guy?

"That's not funny, that's cruel, mate," Sam began to say, but the other man cut him off. "Hold on, mind your eyes." He reached into his pocket and whipped out a strange looking metal pen or something. At least Sam thought it was a pen, but then the man pushed a button on it and it emitted a bright blue light and a weird, high-pitched whirring noise. The man pointed it at the lift call button.

The pen (or whatever it was) caused the button to put off a shower of sparks. Sam leapt back in surprise. With that, the man rushed away, with Sam staring after him in disbelief. "Who is it then?" he called, but the man ignored him. "Who's that lot down there? I said, who are they?!"

"They're made of plastic, living plastic creatures," said the man, when Sam followed after him. "They're being controlled by a relay device on the roof, which would be a big problem if I didn't have this-" The man stopped just long enough to flash Sam a strange looking apparatus making beeping and booping noises, then continued walking. Sam had to practically jog to keep up with the man; he had longer legs and therefore, a faster pace. "So, I'm going to go upstairs and blow it up. And I might well die in the process, but don't worry about me, no. You go on. Go on, have your lovely beans on toast." The man gently pushed Sam through the back door of the shop and out into the night air. "Don't tell anyone about this, because if you do, you'll get them killed," he added, and on that enigmatic note, he slammed the door shut, leaving Sam outside to ponder what the hell had just happened.

Then, to Sam's surprise, the door reopened. "I'm the Doctor, by the way, what's your name?" said the man.

"Sam. Sam Tyler."

"Nice to meet you, Sam." The Doctor shook the bomb cheerfully. "Run for your life!" And then he slammed the door shut again.

Sam, plastic arm still in hand, was utterly bewildered by the whole ordeal, but figured that if this eccentric man had advised him to run, he should probably run.

Roughly three minutes later, Hunt's Boutique exploded.


Later, after Sam arrived at his flat in the Powell Estates and ate dinner, he changed into his pajamas and took a Tylenol. He couldn't take regular aspirin, he was allergic to it. For some reason, after all that had transpired that day, he had a migraine headache. Not the usual migraine however. More like a dull drumming in his head. One, two, three, four. One, two, three, four.

That night, Sam dreamed of the Doctor.


It was an odd dream. Because the Doctor in his dream was not only the man he'd encountered today. He had other faces. The Doctor in Sam's dream was an older man with puffy grey hair, like it had been permed, and rather flamboyant clothes, sometimes even a cape.

And there were others, too: a curly haired, bug-eyed Bohemian in a wide-brimmed hat and an extremely long knit scarf; a young, blonde Edwardian in a cricketer's uniform, with a stalk of celery pinned to the lapel of his long beige jacket; a clownish looking fellow in a rainbow checkered coat; a dark eyed chap with an umbrella and a sweater vest donning red question marks; and a man with long, rich, curly hair, dressed in Victorian garb. And of course, the man with the leather jacket and the big ears was there too.

But this wasn't the strangest aspect of the dream. The strangest part was that all throughout the dream, Sam was pitted against the Doctor. Always trying to kill him, or imprison him, or hurt him in some way or another. Dream-Sam hated the Doctor with a passion, and made himself the Doctor's mortal enemy.

However, Sam also observed that his dream self had a certain fondness for the Doctor, which Dream-Sam hated to admit to himself. Like the Doctor was a brother. Or an old friend, perhaps. Yes, that was it. An old friend. A best friend, even. Or…or even…

Oh. The dream took an odd turn.

Sam's dream self had become a teenager, and so was the Doctor. They were lying on their backs in soft orange grass, gazing up at the sky. Holding hands.

Sam rolled over to look at the Doctor. The Doctor looked back at him and smiled adoringly. Sam moved his head to where their foreheads were pressed together, and the tips of their noses brushed. The young Doctor stroked Sam's hand with his thumb. It sent pleasant shivers down Sam's spine. "Koschei," the Doctor breathed, and Sam knew it was his name, his real name. It made his hearts beat madly.

"Theta," he murmured back, lovingly, and gently pressed his lips to the other boy's. Theta kissed him back, releasing Sam's hand and cupping his cheek.

Sam woke up abruptly, sweating like mad. What the bloody hell was that?!

Chapter Text

The next day, Sam didn't have a job to go to. Hunt's had been destroyed. So much for his theory that the Doctor and the mannequins were a dream.

Speaking of dreams, what the hell had that been last night? By God, he barely encountered this bloke for five minutes, and then he had that utterly confusing dream about him. The mysterious Doctor (or whatever his name really was) and all his different faces. The strange meadow of rust colored grass. And Sam had imagined that he had not one, but two hearts when he was…yeah. That last bit was the weirdest of all.

Sam was not gay. Never had been, never would be. He never ever had fancied men, not a single one. He'd never even had a dream about being gay, until now. Besides, he had a lovely girlfriend-

Annie! Oh God. Sam snatched up his mobile and checked it. Annie had called him ten times, and left eight frantic voicemails. He immediately punched in her number and hit SEND. She picked on the first ring.

"Oh my God, Sam, you had me worried sick!" exclaimed Annie. "You completely missed out on our date last night, and then I saw on the news that your shop had blown up, and-and-oh, Sam!" Sam heard sobs on the other end of the line and knew it was serious. Annie was not one to get all emotional. "I was thinking that the worst had happened! Why didn't you call me?"

"I'm sorry, love, I meant to, honest I did," said Sam, feeling terrible. "But I'd just walked out of the building, and it exploded! After all that, I just forgot. There was so much confusion. I'm so sorry, Annie, please forgive me."

Annie was trying to control her breathing. "Oh, of course I forgive you. I was just so worried. I was scared you were...you were-!"

"I know, I know," said Sam. "But I'm not. I'm still here. I'm alright. Really. Not even a scratch on me. I was quite lucky I got out of there when I did."

"Yes. Thank God for that!"

"Listen, why don't you-" Sam was about to offer that Annie come over and they could go out to brunch somewhere, but was distracted by the sound of something fiddling with his cat flap. Thought I nailed that down, thought Sam.

Sam went over to his front door to inspect it, and found that he had indeed nailed down the flap, but that something had pushed the nails back out.

"Hello? Sam?"

"Sorry, Annie, look, I'll call you later. Weird stuff goin' on," said Sam.

"Alright. Love you," she said and hung up.

Sam bent down and picked up one of the fallen nails. "What the hell?" he muttered.

Suddenly, the cat flap fluttered again. Sam leapt back in surprise. That is no cat, he thought.

Sam cautiously bent back down and pushed the flap with two fingers. Once, briefly. Then, again, completely.

Through the small square, Sam saw two blue eyes staring at him.

Sam popped up in surprise. He flung the front door open to reveal the mysterious Doctor standing there, mirroring his own expression of bewilderment. "What are you doing here?" interrogated the Doctor.

"I live here," said Sam.

"Well what did you do that for?"

"Because I do. I'm only home because someone blew up my job," Sam added pointedly.

The Doctor pulled the weird pen-thing out of his inner jacket pocket. "Must've gotten the wrong signal," he muttered, studying it. He suddenly wrapped his knuckles lightly on Sam's forehead. "You're not plastic, are you? No," he said, answering his own question. "Bonehead. Bye, then."

"Oi! Bonehead?!" Sam grabbed the sleeve of the Doctor's jacket and yanked him inside. "I think you owe me an explanation or two, mate."

"Watch the leather!" complained the Doctor, but didn't object to being pulled inside Sam's flat. "Hmm. Nice place you got here."

"Er…" Well, now that the Doctor was inside, Sam didn't quite know what to say. "Do you…want a coffee or something?" he asked, feeling stupid.

The Doctor looked at him in derision and said, "Yeah…sure. Just milk, thanks."

Sam quickly went to the kitchen to pour the mugs. Okay, thought Sam. You're gonna ask why those dummies came to life last night. No, first, you're gonna ask who the hell he is and why he's stalking you. And why you had a weird dream about him last night-no! You're not bringing that up! God, no!

Meanwhile, in the living room, the Doctor was making himself comfortable. He spotted a magazine lying on the coffee table and flipped it open. "That won't last," he said, chuckling to himself as he scanned an article about some hot new celebrity couple. "He's gay and she's an alien."

He then picked up a paperback and casually shuffled through its pages. "Hm, sad ending," he said, tossing it aside. He found Sam's driver's license and muttered to himself "Sam Tyler". Then, he spotted a mirror hanging on Sam's wall.

"Eh, could've been worse," he mused, getting closer to inspect his new form better. He didled his ear lobes and commented, "Look at the ears." The Doctor had regenerated over a month ago, but hadn't had much time for looking in mirrors and such. He'd been far too busy…well, keeping himself distracted.

Sam was still in the kitchen, so the Doctor picked up a deck of playing cards and attempted to shuffle them, but instead managed to scatter them all over the living room floor. "Maybe not," he sighed.

The Doctor was suddenly distracted by the sound of the cat flap rattling. "What's that then?" he called to Sam in the kitchen. "You got a cat?"

Sam was shaken from his stupor of thinking about the previous night's occurrings. "What? No," he replied.

With the coffee finally poured, Sam came into the living room, where the Doctor had plopped himself into an armchair and was messing around with the plastic arm, pretending that it was choking him. "Thought I threw that out," he said offhandedly, setting the mugs down on the coffee table. "Oi, what are all these cards doing all over the floor?" he said, bending over to pick them up.

"Anyway…look, mate, you never did tell me your name last night. Doctor what-was-it?" said Sam, but no reply came from the Doctor, just strange grunting noises. "Hello?—Ahh!"

The Doctor had managed to pry the arm from his throat. He threw the arm away, which simply continued to hang there in midair. Then, fingers outstretched, the arm turned around and attached itself to Sam's face.

The Doctor grabbed the arm by its…arm and attempted to detach it from Sam's face, managing to fall backward, breaking the coffee table, with Sam on top of him-


The golden-haired boy fell onto the floor, accidentally pulling his smaller, dark-haired friend with him. "Whoops!" said Theta, and the two boys laughed at their own silliness…until the sound died away, and the two boys were just staring into each other eyes, crystal blue versus mystic lavender.

"Kos…" Theta said slowly.

Koschei tried to calm the rapid beats of his hearts, and quickly stood, turning away so that the other would not see him blush-


Oh, brother! thought Sam, his cheeks burning red behind the plastic hand. He quickly pulled himself up and immediately fell back onto the futon. The Doctor finally yanked the arm off of Sam's face, then, after meddling with the buttons for an instant, jabbed the palm with his strange pen device.

The arm gave a final twitch of its fingers and went stiff. "It's alright, I stopped it. See?" he said, tossing the arm to Sam. "'Armless," he joked, flashing him another toothy smile.

The two men stood, Sam still a little shaken by the attack. The Doctor picked up his spilled mug from the floor where the wooden shards of Sam's destroyed coffee table lay scattered like the playing cards. "Well, the coffee was lovely," he said, handing the mug to Sam. "But now I really must be off. Have a nice day."

And with that, the Doctor strode out the door.

Sam stood there in bewilderment, his living room all but destroyed. Then he remembered why he had invited the strange man in—answers. "Oi! Wait a second!"

Sam chased after the leather clad man, who was now descending the stairs outside. "Hold on a minute, you can't just go swanning off!"

"Yes I can. Here I am; this is me, swanning off. See ya!" The Doctor called cheekily over his shoulder.

"That arm was bloody moving!" exclaimed Sam. "It tried to kill me!"

"Ten out of ten for observation," muttered the Doctor sarcastically.

"But…but…you can't just walk away," argued Sam. "You've got to tell me what's going on."

"No, I don't."

The Doctor continued to walk away from the estates, but Sam was on hot on his heels. "Alright then," Sam threatened. "I'll go to the police. I'll tell everyone. You said if I did that, I'd get people killed. So, your choice, my dear Doctor; tell me, or I'll-"

The Doctor whirled around. "What did you just say?"

"Er…I said 'tell me'?" said Sam confusedly.

"No, before that," said the Doctor.

"'Your choice'?"

"No, after that." The Doctor eyed Sam suspiciously. "You called me something."

Sam was puzzled. "Yeah. I called you 'Doctor'."

The Doctor stared into Sam's hazel eyes intensely, as if searching for something. Sam felt a bit awkward at the scrutiny. Finally, the Doctor shut his eyes and shook his head. "Nah. Forget it. Just thought you…never mind," he said, pacing away again.

Sam quickly followed suit. "Look, mate…who are you?"

"You just said it. The Doctor," he said.

"Yeah, but…Doctor who?" persisted Sam. "You got a surname, don't you?"

Lungbarrow.

"No," said the Doctor. "Not anymore."

"So…you're just…the Doctor?" said Sam incredulously.

"Hello!" said the Doctor, waving.

"Is that supposed to sound impressive?"

The Doctor shrugged. "Sort of."

"Are you the police?" asked Sam.

"No, I was just passing through. I'm a long way from home," the Doctor added nonchalantly.

A sudden image appeared up in Sam's mind. A wondrous landscape of the red-orange grass from Sam's dream, the yellow-orange sky the backdrop for forests of silver trees and high mountains of violet and brown and red and gold. All amber hued and lit up by the sun, one of two, coming up over the horizon, setting the glorious red and orange and gold scene ablaze…

Sam shook his head slightly. What were all these strange notions? Ever since he'd met this eccentric Doctor, his head was filled with visions and feelings and memories that weren't his. His head was pounding with it all. One, two, three, four. One, two, three, four. "But how come those plastic things keep coming after me?"

"Oh, suddenly the entire world revolves around you!" taunted the Doctor. "You were just an accident. You got in the way, that's all."

"It tried to kill me."

"It was after me, not you. Last night, in the shop, I was there, you blundered in, almost ruined the whole thing. This morning, I was tracking it down, it was tracking me down. The only reason it fixed on you is 'cause you've met me."

"So what you're saying is that the entire world revolves around you."

"Sort of, yeah," the Doctor shot back.

Sam snorted. "You're full of it."

"Sort of, yeah," the Doctor repeated, grinning impishly.

Sam allowed himself a laugh. "But, all this plastic stuff," he said. "Who else knows about it?"

"No one," replied the Doctor.

"What, you're on your own?"

"Well, who else is there? I mean, you lot, all you do is eat chips, go to bed, and watch telly, while all the time, underneath you, there's a war going on."

"Okay…" said Sam slowly. "Start from the beginning. I mean, if we're going to go with the living plastic…and I don't even believe that…but if we do, how did you kill it?"

The Doctor, coming to terms with the fact that he just wasn't going to shake Sam, slowed down a more leisurely pace. He took a breath and began to explain. "The thing controlling it projects life into the arm. I cut off the signal. Dead."

"So it's radio control?" asked Sam.

"Thought control," corrected the Doctor. He noticed the look on Sam's face. "Are you alright?"

"Yeah." For some reason, Sam was surprisingly unfazed by any of this. It must have just been the initial shock fading away. "So, who's controlling it, then?"

"Long story," said the Doctor shortly.

"But what's it all for? I mean, shop window dummies, what's that about?" Sam lowered his voice and whispered dramatically, "Is someone trying to take over Britain's shops?"

The Doctor and Sam actually burst into laughter at this. "No," chuckled the Doctor. "It's not a price war."

"Yeah?" said Sam, still chortling a bit himself. "Then what are they doing here?"

"They want to overthrow the human race and destroy you," said the Doctor, not laughing anymore.

Sam stopped laughing too and looked at the Doctor in slight disbelief. "Do you believe me?" asked the Doctor, gauging his reaction.

"No," said Sam honestly.

"But you're still listening," the Doctor pointed out.

"Yeah…but really, though, Doctor…tell me. Who are you?" said Sam, all seriousness now.

The Doctor stopped short. He slowly turned around. There was a glimmer of wonder in his eyes.

"Do you know how they say—about the Earth revolving?" The Doctor took a few steps toward Sam. "It's like when you were a kid. The first time they tell you the world's turning and you just can't quite believe it because everything looks like it's standing still."

Sam stared at the strange, mystical man with a feeling of bewilderment and anticipation. The Doctor looked at him, the cloudy blue eyes piercing into his own hazel ones. "I can feel it," whispered the Doctor. "The turn of the Earth…The ground beneath our feet is spinning at a thousand miles an hour, the entire planet is hurtling around the sun at sixty seven thousand miles an hour, and I can feel it. We're falling through space, you and me, clinging to the skin of this tiny little world, and if we let go…"

Sam felt the Doctor suddenly drop his hand. He hadn't even realized he had been holding it.

"Er…sorry," said the Doctor, looking awkward.


Theta and Koschei had snuck out after supper to watch the second sun set. It was one of their favorite things. The way the sun cast beams of light that shone through the silver leaves of the trees and set the violet-brown mountains on fire. The sky becoming darker red than the crimson grass underneath them.

The two boys sat on the ground, watching the great golden sphere sink lower and lower in the sky. The evening breeze rustled their hair.

Koschei closed his eyes and felt the gentle wind on his face, his cheeks, his eyelids. He could faintly smell the sweet essence of the baby blue flowers that grew wild out here in the meadow.

The young boy was completely immersed in the moment, until he felt something brush his hand gently.

Koschei's violet eyes opened suddenly and he looked down to see that Theta's hand had moved on top of his.

Theta and Koschei stared at the joined hands for a moment, before Theta slowly moved his away. "Er…sorry," he said, looking away bashfully.


"Uh…it's alright," said Sam.

The breeze was blowing out here too, like in the vision (he was going mad). It was actually quite a beautiful day. The sun was shining, a bird was chirping in a large oak tree standing next to a blue telephone box. Children were laughing and shrieking in a playground nearby.

The Doctor cleared his throat. "Yeah, well…that's who I am. Now, forget me, Sam Tyler," he said firmly.

He took the dummy's arm from Sam and waved it at him sardonically. "Go home."

The Doctor turned and walked away.

Sam watched the mysterious man go. Then, he too slowly turned around and started back for his apartment. But he had only walked about twenty paces, when a noise stopped him.

It was a strange, mechanical wheezing, unlike anything Sam had ever heard before. He didn't know what it was, but it just seemed so familiar

Sam swiftly turned around and raced back to the place where he and the Doctor had parted. He looked around frantically, but saw neither hide nor hair of the mysterious man.

He was gone.

Sam stared at a sidewalk where a few cars were parked. Wait…wasn't there a telephone booth standing there just a second ago?

Chapter Text

"Sam!" exclaimed Annie when she opened the door to her flat to find him standing there. She was a pretty woman, with shoulder length, reddish brown hair and dazzling hazel eyes. She pulled him into a tight embrace. "I'm just so glad you're okay," she said with a sigh of relief.

"Sorry I couldn't come over sooner," said Sam, giving her a quick kiss.

"Yeah, you said there was weird stuff going on. What sort of weird stuff?" asked Annie, leading him into her living room.

"Annie, I'm not sure if I can explain it all," sighed Sam. "I really don't know about it myself."

"Well, just try to put it out of your mind," said Annie, smiling. "Listen. Why don't you give me fifteen minutes or so to get ready, and we'll go somewhere for lunch. Alright?"

"Sounds great. I could use something to eat." Sam hadn't had much to eat all day. He hadn't even had his morning coffee, thanks to the Doctor. Hey… "Say, you mind if I use your computer?"

"Not at all," said Annie, heading into her bedroom.

"Thanks." Why didn't I think of looking him up before? Sam immediately went to the Google homepage on Annie's PC and typed in "doctor". Of course, about 18 billion results came up, none of them having to do with his Doctor.

Sam sighed and revised his search to "doctor living plastic", but all this succeeded in doing was bringing up websites for a bunch of plastic surgeons. Dummy, he thought to himself. What else was there? He had absolutely nothing to go on about this elusive Doctor, except for some very strange visions he'd been having lately. Don’t think on those too hard, Sam thought with a shudder.

Wait. There was one thing. Sam recalled that when he and the Doctor had parted ways (the second time), he had disappeared, along with an old blue telephone box. Was it possible?

Sam shrugged. What the hell? And he typed in "doctor blue box".

Immediately, Sam got a lead. The first result was for a website that was bannered "Doctor Who?" Sam instinctively clicked on the link.

The computer brought up a rather unprofessional looking website, that reiterated its name, "Doctor Who?", and was adorned with a zoomed in picture of a man standing in a crowd. He had short dark hair, a leather jacket, and mistakable big ears.

It was him. His Doctor.

Underneath, the photo was captioned: Have you seen this man? Contact Clive.

"Sam? Are you ready?" Annie poked her head into the room, fresh clothes on and hair neatly combed.

"Yeah, sure…hey, Anne?"

"Yes?"

Sam looked at his girlfriend. "Do you mind if we make a little detour first?"


"Sam? What are we doing here?" asked Annie, staring at the small brick house they had pulled up to.

"Just need to ask this guy some questions," replied Sam.

"What about?"

"Er…it's about a job," Sam lied, and felt guilty about it. "I mean, with Hunt's blown to smithereens and all, I'm going to need some way to pay the bills. This guy owns a butcher shop; thought maybe I could…I dunno…chop meat or something."

"You don't know anything about being a butcher," Annie stated.

"Well, this could be an opportunity. Learn new things every day, that's what they say, right?"

"I guess so," said Annie, leaning back in her seat. "But do try and hurry, alright?"

"Course." Sam smiled and leaned over to kiss her. "Be right back."

Sam got out of the car and went up to the door of Clive's house. He knocked on the door and was greeted by a twelve or thirteen year old boy. "Hello," said Sam. "I've come to see Clive. Is he here?"

"Yeah, sure," said the boy. "Dad," he called into the house. "It’s one o’ your nutters!"

As the kid walked away, a portly, pleasant looking man, age of about forty five, came to the door. "Oh, hello," he said in a slight Welsh accent as he shook Sam's hand. "I'm Clive. And you are?"

"Er, Sam. Sam Tyler. I found your website online. You know…the one about…the Doctor?"

"Ah, yes! What about him?"

"Well, the thing is…" Sam rubbed the back of his neck. "I've seen him."

Clive's face suddenly went serious. "You've seen the Doctor?"

"Yeah."

Clive poked his head outside and looked around. "Come in, come in," he said, ushering Sam inside.

Clive shut the door behind him. "When did you see him? Tell me all about it. Oh, this way, please," he added, beginning to walk down the hallway.

Sam followed. "Well…did you hear on the news about Hunt's Boutique downtown? It exploded last night."

"Oh, yeah, I saw about that." Clive stopped short. "Wait…that was the Doctor?!"

"Yeah…he kind of blew it up."

"That's brilliant!...Well, no, not brilliant, but I mean, brilliant that you saw the Doctor! Did he say anything to you?"

"Yeah, little bit."

"Like what? What did he say?" Clive sounded very excited as he led Sam into a small room with pictures and bulletin boards posted all around.

"Well, he said…" Sam tried to think back to the previous night. "He said 'go on, have your lovely beans on toast'."

"Really? That's it?" Clive looked disappointed.

"Well, sorry, mate, but he said a lot of things. And to be honest, it was a very crazy night," said Sam. In more ways than you know.

"Oh well…anyway," continued Clive. He gestured around to the things in the room. "Here it is. All my research. A lot of this stuff's quite sensitive. I couldn't just send it to you. People might intercept it, if you know what I mean." He gave Sam a worried look. Sam managed to hold back a snort. How paranoid can you be?

"If you dig deep enough and keep a lively mind, this Doctor keeps cropping up all over the place," Clive went on. "Political diaries, conspiracy theories…even ghost stories." Clive pulled out a thick blue file folder and laid it out on the cluttered table in the middle of the room. "No first name, no last name. Just 'the Doctor'. Always 'the Doctor'." A far away look came to Clive's eye. "And the title seems to have been passed down from father to son. It appears to be an inheritance."

Images from Sam's dream flashed before his eyes again. The Doctor and all his faces. Was that who this man was? Just a man who had taken the name of others before him? Maybe he was a secret agent or something. Like James Bond. But in his dream…they'd all felt like the same man…

Sam laughed at himself inwardly. A man who changes his appearance so drastically? Really. It was completely impossible.

"That's your Doctor there, isn't it?" asked Clive, shaking Sam from his reverie. He was pointing at a picture on a computer monitor.

"Yeah," said Sam, staring at the picture from the website, of the leather clad Doctor standing in a crowd, his arms crossed, staring at something intensely.

"I tracked it down to the Washington public archive just last year," said Clive. "The online photo's enhanced, but if we look at the original…" Clive dug a couple pieces of paper out of the blue folder and showed them to Sam. He pointed to the Doctor in the first photo, which was the same as the website, then flipped to a shot that was less zoomed in and showed more of the crowd around the Doctor, then showed him one more.

Sam could not believe his eyes.

The whole scene was a street in America; Dallas, Texas to be exact. The Doctor and his fellow bystanders were staring at a motorcade rolling along down the street; several police officers on motorcycles escorting a black convertible, carrying two people in its backseat. One was a pretty lady in a pink business suit and matching hat. And next to her was a gingery-blonde man in a black suit, with a friendly smile on his face. It was a face that Sam had only seen in history textbooks, but was easily recognizable.

Clive nodded at Sam's astonished reaction. "November 22, 1963. The assassination of President John F. Kennedy. See?"

Sam simply could not believe it. He stared hard at the man in the crowd. There was no way that the Doctor he'd met could be standing there, in that picture. The man he'd met wouldn't even have been born in 1963. "It must be his father," Sam whispered. Right?

"Going further back," said Clive, going over to get another picture while Sam continued to stare at the picture in disbelief. "April, 1912. This is a photo of the Daniels family of Southampton," he said, sticking the new photo under Sam's nose and pointing to a tall man standing on the left. "And friend."

Again, it was undoubtedly the Doctor. "This was taken the day before they were due to sail off for the New World on the Titanic," said Clive, "and for some unknown reason, they canceled the trip…and survived. And here we are." Clive reached for one more piece of paper and handed it to Sam. This one was a sketch of a landscape, with a primitive looking hut in the background, and of course, an all too familiar looking man, with his hands in the pockets of his black leather jacket. "1883. Another Doctor. And look, the same lineage," he said, pointing out the uncanny similarities in the mystery men. "He's identical. This one washed up on the coast of Sumatra, on the very night that Krakatoa exploded."

"The Doctor is a legend woven throughout history," Clive continued. "When disaster comes, he's there. He brings a storm in his wake. And he has one constant companion."

"Who's that?" Sam dared to ask.

Clive looked at Sam gravely. "Death."

The room was eerily silent. Sam felt goosebumps, as if someone with cold fingers had touched his spine.

"If the Doctor's back…if you've seen him, Sam…then one thing's for certain. We're all in danger." Clive crossed the room and put his folder back in its place. "If he's singled you out, if the Doctor's makin' house calls…then God help you."

"But…who is he?" asked Sam, feeling a pit of dread form in his stomach. "Who do you think he is?"

"I think he's the same man," said Clive, the far off look in his eye from before returning. "I think he's immortal." Clive stared intensely into Sam's eyes and whispered, "I think he's an alien from another world."


"He's a nutter! Off his head. Complete online conspiracy freak!" muttered Sam to himself on the way back to the car. "He's dotty, loony, balmy..."


"Look up there, Kos!" said Theta, excitedly, pointing to the stars. "Aren't they beautiful?"

"Yeah," said Koschei, smiling endearingly at his Theta. There was nothing more he loved more than when Theta got all excited and began babbling about things. The way his eyes sparkled…

"Someday, Koschei, we're going to take our TARDIS and fly it straight out there! We're going to see everything the universe has to offer. Every planet, every sun and moon and comet and nebula there is. Doesn't that sound wonderful?"

"Yes," said Koschei, taking Theta's hand. "Did you know that you're beautiful, Theta? Your soul is beautiful."

Theta smiled and took Koschei's other hand. "Thank you, Koschei. I love you."

"I love you too."

"So…do you want to?"

"Want to what?"

"See the universe with me," asked Theta.

Koschei laughed. "Of course I do. Who else would I see it with? Ushas? Or that prat Mortimus, perhaps?"

Theta laughed and kissed Koschei earnestly. Koschei kissed back and wrapped his arms around his love's torso. Soon they were rolling around on the ground, completely oblivious to anything but each other…


Sam shook his head slightly. What was wrong with him?

He sighed as he climbed into the car and shut the door. "Well…that was disappointing," he said. "So, I'm starved. I fancy a pizza."

"Pizza."

"Or Chinese," said Sam, shrugging. "What do you think?"

"P-p-p-pizza," sputtered Annie.

Sam looked at his girlfriend. "Er…you alright? Your face is a little…flushed."

She slowly turned to look at him. "Pizza," she repeated.

Sam laughed. "Okay, I get it, I'm hungry too. Let's go," he said and put the key in the ignition.


"So, maybe I should I try the hospital," said Sam to Annie later, at the pizza place. He was staring at the menu, but not really reading it; he was too busy trying to think of places he could work, jobs he could do. He was certainly trying not to think of that man. "I mean, yeah, I can't be a…nurse or anything, obviously," he said, gliding over the D-word, "but I'm sure there's janitorial work or something. God. When I think to myself that I could’ve gone to university, done my A levels...my teachers said I had the brains. If I’d had the money for it..."

"So who's the Doctor?" said Annie.

Sam nearly fell out of his chair in shock. "Wha-?! How did you know about the Doctor?!"

"…I saw the website on my computer, of course," said Annie shortly. "Now, who is he? What do you know about him? Where did you meet him?"

"Er…last night. At the shop?"

"Oh, so it was him that took all those innocent lives. Yes?" Annie grilled him.

"Innocent lives? Everyone else was gone, Anne. It was just me and him, and look, I'm fine, see?"

"Not the humans," said Annie, saying the word as some might say "maggot-eaten dead rat carcass". "The Autons."

"Autons? What are Autons? Wait, you mean the plastics? How do you know they're called Autons?"

"Never mind that, just tell me about this Doctor," said Annie dismissively. "It's okay, you can trust me, sweetheart, babe, babe, sugar, babe, sugar." She grinned at him widely, her eyes bulging unnaturally. "You can tell me anything. Tell me about the Doctor, and what's he's planning. I can help you, Sam. That's all I really want to do, sweetheart, babe, babe, sugar, sweetheart."

"Okay, what's going on?" said Sam. "You're acting very strange."

"Your champagne," said the waiter, coming to the table and sticking the bottle under Annie's nose.

"We didn't order any champagne," said Annie, not even looking up. She grabbed Sam's hand and squeezed it. Hard. "Where's the Doctor?"

"Christ, Annie! You got a grip! That's not human!" said Sam, wrenching his hand and rubbing it.

"Here, soothe your hand with this cold champagne," said the bothersome waiter, now shoving the bottle in Sam's face.

"We're fine, mate, thanks," said Sam, waving the bottle away. "Annie, what is it? What's wrong?"

"I need to find out how much you know, so where is he?" demanded Annie.

"Doesn't anybody want this champagne?" asked the waiter, still standing at Sam's shoulder.

Annie rolled her eyes and looked up at the waiter. "Look, we didn't order-" Then she stopped short. Sam looked up too.

The Doctor was standing there, staring at them, bald faced.

"Ah," said Annie, grinning wickedly. "Gotcha."

The Doctor shook up the bottle in his hand. "Don't mind me," he said. "I'm just toasting the happy couple." The Doctor aimed the bottle straight at Annie. "On the house!"

The cork popped off and flew straight at...no, into Annie's forehead. Sam watched in horror as her skin absorbed the small projectile, and her whole face distorted like a fun house mirror. Annie merely chewed several times and spit the cork back out onto the table. It bounced off and rolled away.

"What are you?!" said Sam in shock.

Annie ignored him and stood up. Sam briefly saw her hand stretch out and form into a giant flat slab (a bit like a giant spatula) before the Doctor snatched him up and pulled him away just in time. Annie's spatula hand came smashing down on the table and destroyed it.

(Is that just a thing that happens around this guy? Sam couldn't help but wonder. Tables getting mauled?)

The diners screamed and fled the café as the Doctor grabbed Annie (or whatever she was) by the head. "You'll have to excuse me, miss," he said, and put her into a headlock, twisting and yanking at her skull, like he had done with the arm, until—pop!—Annie's head came loose in the Doctor's hands, while her body continued to stand there, completely independent.

The Doctor looked down at Annie's head, which glared up at him. "Don't think that's going to stop me," she threatened.

Annie's body lurched for the Doctor, blinding trying to whack him with her paddle hands. "Doctor, come on!" exclaimed Sam, grabbing him by the sleeve. The two men took off, Annie's cranium still tucked under the Doctor's arm.

Chapter Text

The plastic body chased Sam and the Doctor through the kitchens of the restaurant. "Quick! Through here!" exclaimed the Doctor, grabbing Sam's hand and shoving him out the back door of the café.


"Quick, Kos!" exclaimed Theta, as the two boys ran, hand in hand, through the corridors, trying to avoid the prefects patrolling the school at night. Theta suddenly pulled Koschei into a doorway. "Through here!"


The Doctor sealed the metal door behind them with his…whatever it was. The pen thing. Sam could hear the creature banging loudly on the other side of the door. He knew the door wouldn't hold it back for long.

Sam turned and ran to the other end of the back alley in which they had emerged and tried to open the gates, but they were padlocked and chained. "Open the gate!" he cried at the Doctor. "Use that…tube thing, come on!"

"Sonic screwdriver," said the Doctor, walking casually away from the door as he slipped said instrument back into his pocket.

"Well, whatever it's called, use it!"

"Nah," said the Doctor, heading over to where the blue telephone booth from before was parked. Sam had been so preoccupied with getting them the hell out of there that he hadn't even acknowledged it standing there. "Tell you what, let's go in here."

Sam watched in disbelief as the Doctor nonchalantly pulled an ordinary looking key out of his pocket and slipped it into the lock of the small blue box. It was about eight feet tall, and had all the dimensions of a stall in a gas station loo. The Doctor climbed inside and disappeared.

"We can't hide inside a small wooden box!" protested Sam as the banging on the door grew more prominent. Sam whirled around and stared in terror at the large significant dents that had appeared. A few more good whacks, and the door would be destroyed.

Sam struggled some more with the lock, but the doors would not budge. "It's coming, Doctor!" he cried frantically.

Ugh! Sam let go of the chain in frustration and ran to the blue box, hurried inside, and slammed the doors shut behind him. Then he turned around…and stared for a moment, awestruck.

And then he turned again and ran right back outside.


"Thete, we'll get into trouble," whined Koschei, looking anxiously over his shoulder as Theta shut the door behind them. "What are we even doing here anyway?"

"To see this, Kos!" Theta flipped a large switch on and suddenly, the room was luminated with pure white light. Koschei stared in wonder.


Impossible! Sam stared at the blue box in astonishment. It was about six feet in width, as were the rest of the sides, he noted as he inspected the rest of the box.

Smash! Sam looked behind him to see that the plastic creature had finally broken through the door. Without another moment's hesitation, Sam ran back inside the blue box and secured the door.


The room Theta had brought them to was an enormous green house. There were large, green, majestic plants growing in rows for as far as Koschei could see. "What is this place?" he breathed.


"It's going to follow us," said Sam, looking around the vast room in amazement. While the outside of the box was fairly diminutive, the interior was impossibly huge. The room was in a shape that Sam couldn't even find a name for; it had twenty walls with small round grates. The floor was a grate as well, with a huge hexagonal console in the middle, littered with hundreds of buttons and switches and wires and levers and God knows what all. Coming out of the center of the console was a long glass tube going straight to the ceiling of the room. The whole structure was supported by slightly distorted Y-shaped columns. And as if this one room wasn't enough, Sam saw stairs leading up to a higher level that promised more rooms to be explored.

"The assembled hoards of Genghis Khan couldn't get through those doors, and believe me, they've tried," said the Doctor, fiddling with something on the control panel. He either hadn't noticed Sam's dumbfounded state, or was completely used to it. "You see," he continued, "the arm was too simple. But a head's perfect. I can use it trace the signal back to the original source."

Sam watched silently as the Doctor plugged wires into the rubber head. It was slightly creepy. The hair, the eyes, the lips…it looked uncannily like Annie. "Right," said the Doctor, leaving the head sitting on a glowing blue panel. He turned and faced Sam, waiting expectantly. "Where do you want to start?"

"Um…" Sam stuttered for a moment. The Doctor stood there patiently, his hands in the pockets of his jeans. "The inside's bigger than the outside?"

"Yeah."

"Is it alien?"

"Yeah."

Sam stared at the Doctor and said cautiously, "Are you alien?"

"Yes…is that alright?"

"Yeah," Sam answered quickly.

The Doctor nodded slowly. "It's called the TARDIS. This thing," he said, gesturing to the room in which they stood. "T-A-R-D-I-S. That's 'Time And Relative Dimension In Space'."


"It's the nursery, Koschei," said Theta, taking his hand and grinning widely. "This is where they grow the TARDISes."

"They're…they're beautiful," whispered Koschei, drinking in the view.


"I don't…this is unreal," gasped Sam, sitting down on the grated floor.

"That's okay," said the Doctor, squatting down beside him. "Culture shock. Happens to the best of us."

"What about Annie?" asked Sam. "Is she…did they kill her?"

The Doctor blinked in surprise. "Oh. Didn't think of that."

Sam looked the Doctor, enraged. "She's my girlfriend! You pulled her head off!"

"Really? She's your girlfriend?" The Doctor looked surprised. "Weird. I would've thought…never mind."

What is that supposed to mean? "They copied her, or turned her into plastic or something, and you didn't even think? And now you're just going to let her melt?" shouted Sam.

"Melt?" The Doctor looked at the console, where the rubber head was liquefying. "Oh, no, no, no, no, no!" yelled the Doctor, scrambling up from the floor and rushing to the other side of the console. He madly began to press some buttons.

"What are you doing?" exclaimed Sam.

"Following the signal. It's fading!" The Doctor jumped around, working the controls, while the TARDIS began making the strange wheezing noise from before, and began to shake. The glass tube in the center glowed bluish-green and filaments inside began pumping up and down.

The Doctor pulled down a lever and inspected the computer screen. "Wait a minute, I've got it!" Then, a second later… "No, no, no, no, no, no, no!" He flipped a couple more switches. "Almost there, almost there!" He seemed to be shouting at the machine. "Here we go!"

The TARDIS stopped trembling. The Doctor rushed past Sam and ran out the door.

"You can't go out there, it's not safe!" Sam protested, thinking back to Annie's beheaded rubber body, dashing about with its mad spatula hands. The Doctor ignored him. Groaning to himself, he raced after him.

Sam found, surprisingly, that they had left the alley behind the café and had been teleported to the bridge over the Thames River, right next to the RAF memorial statue. The Doctor was pacing, looking irritated. "I lost the signal," he grumbled. "I got so close."

"We've moved," said Sam, scratching his head. "Does it fly?"

"Disappears there and reappears here, you wouldn't understand," said the Doctor curtly. He stared out disgustedly over the water.

"If we're somewhere else, what about that headless thing? It's still on the loose," Sam pointed out.

"It melted with the head. Are you going to witter on all night?" The Doctor walked past him and leaned against the side of the TARDIS.

Sam crossed his arms over his chest. The evening wind was cool, and—wait, evening? Sam looked around confusedly at the dark sky. He could have sworn it was only one o'clock in the afternoon. Two at the latest. How was it already dark?

Oh, confound it. So much had happened in the past twenty fours hours that he really didn't care anymore.

Annie. Sweet, smart, beautiful Annie. Had the worst really happened to her? "I'll have to tell her family," he said.

He looked at the Doctor. "Huh?" said the Doctor.

"Annie," said Sam angrily. "I'll have to tell her family she's dead. You just went and forgot her again, didn't you?!" Sam was so mad, he wanted to punch a wall. Or better yet, the Doctor. Who the hell was this guy, blowing up buildings, barging into his home, his private life, even his dreams.

But Sam didn't like violence. "You know what? You were right, you are alien."

"Look, if I did forget some bird named Annie, it's because I'm trying to save the life of every stupid ape blunderin' about on top of this planet, alright?!"

"'Alright?'" repeated Sam in sheer disbelief.

"Yes, it is!" shouted the Doctor.

After this last outburst, the two men continued to stand there, not speaking, not looking at each other, Sam smoldering and the Doctor indignant. Finally, after a few tense moments, Sam broke the silence. "So if you're an alien, how come you sound like you're from the north?"

The Doctor was slightly taken by surprise by this question. "Lots of plants have a north," he reasoned.

Sam noted that he said "lots of" planets had norths. Not "all".

Sam glanced up at the extraterrestrial blue box that had suddenly materialized into his life. "And this…'Police Public Call Box'. Aren't these kind of old fashioned?"

"Yeah," said the Doctor, finally grinning a little. "From the 1950's. It's a disguise," he added, patting the side of his ship fondly.


Koschei stared at the unripe TARDISes, all in their beautiful, natural form. "Can we go inside one, Theta?" whispered Koschei.

"Of course," said Theta, smiling warmly at his dear friend. Koschei loved Theta's smile. So warm. Like a fireplace on a cold night.

Theta took Koschei's hand, and the two boys went inside the nearest TARDIS. Koschei couldn't believe his eyes. "It's…it's-"

"Bigger on the inside," finished Theta.

The room was pristine white, with glowing round things on the walls. In the center was a huge console, covered in every button imaginable. "It's the most beautiful thing I've ever seen," said Koschei softly, as he tenderly fingered the console.

"That's just what I said," said Theta.


"Okay," said Sam, slightly shaking his head. "And this…living plastic. What's it got against them?...I mean, us. The humans."

The Doctor didn't notice Sam's slip. "Nothing. It loves you. You've got such a good planet. Lots of smoke and oil, plenty of toxins and dioxins in the air-perfect. Just what the Nestene Consciousness needs. Its food stock was destroyed in the war, all its protein plants rotted, so Earth, dinner." The Doctor mimed eating.

What war? wondered Sam. "Any way of stopping it?"

The Doctor reached into his inner jacket pocket and pulled out a vial of blue liquid. "Anti-plastic," he said, smiling smugly. "But first, I've got to find it." The Doctor began pacing again. "How can you hide something that big in a city this small?"

London? Small? "Hide what?" asked Sam.

"The transmitter," said the Doctor. "The Consciousness is controlling every single piece of plastic, so it needs a transmitter to boost the signal."

"Well, what's it look like?"

"Like a transmitter," said the Doctor, as if Sam was dumb for even asking. "Round and massive! Somewhere slap-bang in the middle of London." He walked past Sam, the TARDIS, the statue, and paused next to the railing on the other side. He turned to face Sam. "A huge metal circular structure. Like a dish, like a wheel. Radial. Close to where we're standing…must be completely invisible."

Sam stared behind the Doctor, who hadn't noticed the backdrop to his soliloquy. "What?" he asked. Sam nodded to the huge Ferris wheel behind him. The Doctor turned and looked, but did not see. "What?" he said again. Sam again gestured to the wheel. The Doctor, again, missed it. "What is it? What?"

Really, mate? Are you that thick? Sam sighed.

The Doctor turned around once more, and finally saw what Sam meant—the London Eye. "Oh," he said slowly, then grinned at Sam.

"Fantastic!"


"Promise me, Koschei," said Theta, grabbing his friend by the shoulders and whirling him around to face him. "Promise me that someday, you and I will fly this TARDIS together. Flying among the stars. Seeing the universe and all it has to offer. You and me."

"I promise, Theta," said Koschei, staring into his clear blue eyes.

It was deadly quiet around them, in the solitude of the TARDIS. Koschei's heart rates had increased, and he could tell that Theta's had too. "Theta-" he began to whisper, but Theta cut him off with a kiss. The first of many that would come.

Koschei was taken by surprise, but in no way protesting. He wrapped his arms around Theta's torso and hugged him closer to him. The taller Time Lord cupped Koschei's face in his hands and deepened the kiss, making Koschei gasp with delight. He had never kissed anyone, but he knew that never would such an embrace felt so right as theirs.

Theta broke the kiss and smiled at Koschei, stroking his cheek with his thumb. "I guess that promise is sealed."

Chapter Text

"Thete? Did you really mean it? You and me?"

"Of course, Kos."

"Forever?"

"Yes. Forever."


Sam and the Doctor tore down the street, through the hustle and bustle of downtown London. Sam always loved the city at night. The bright headlights, the people, mucking about, partying, drinking, laughing it up. And now, with the rush of adrenaline pulsing through his systems, he found the scene even more electrifying. He didn't even think twice when the Doctor took his hand. Why did it feel so natural, he would find himself wondering later.

"Think of it!" called the Doctor, slowing down as they approached the great Ferris wheel. "Plastic, all over the world, every artificial thing waiting to come alive. The shop-window dummies, the phones, the wires, the cables…"

"The nose jobs," added Sam.

"Still," said the Doctor. "We've found the transmitter. The Consciousness must be somewhere underneath."

Sam looked down over the parapet and spotted a large manhole at the bottom of the steps. "Like down here?" he called.

The Doctor rushed to his side and looked at the manhole. "Looks good to me," he said, flashing a grin at Sam. The Doctor took off again, followed closely by Sam, and the two men climbed down the manhole.

"The Nestene Consciousness," said the Doctor, as the two found themselves in a giant boiler room. He pointed. "That's it. Inside the vat. A living plastic creature."

The Consciousness was a huge blobby mass of boiling hot, burning orange goo. It lay bubbling inside the giant vat in the center of the room.

Suddenly, Sam heard a voice in his head. I know you. Time Lord.

"What? What is it?" said the Doctor, suddenly noticing Sam's discomfort.

"That..that thing," said Sam shakily. "It just…said something. In my head."

"What did it say?"

"It said 'I know you, Time Lord'," said Sam, looking at the Doctor warily.

The Doctor paled immediately at this. He marched straight-backed down the stairs, to the landing above the factory.


The TARDIS appeared in the lair of the Nestene Consciousness. A man in a black Nehru suit stepped out, and registered his surroundings.

He was short. About five foot eight, and had dark eyes, cold and bitter, and dark hair, complete with a mustache and goatee-type beard.

Two or three Autons marched out of the shadows, arms outstretched to grab the man. He calmly grabbed his TCE out of the inner pocket of his suit jacket and pointed it at them. They immediately backed off.

"I have an appointment," said the man in black, slipping the device back into his pocket. "If you would be so kind."

The Autons escorted him to the room where the Consciousness dwelled. "Your Excellency," said the man, bowing deeply to the gelatinous monster.

He normally did not pay other beings with this form of respect, but as he required the Consciousness's help to destroy his worst enemy and the pathetic planet he now inhabited, he would have to force himself to behave.

"You are a Time Lord," observed the Consciousness, transmitting telepathically.

"Indeed," replied the dark man. "I humbly come to your Excellency's court with a proposition."

"What is this proposition, visitor?"

The dark man smiled. "You operate a very fine empire here. The Nestene Autons are feared throughout the cosmos. But I know of a planet where your kingdom could thrive tenfold. A planet rich in oil and toxins. A planet already with the means to mass produce your plastic creatures."

"I would know of such a planet," said the Consciousness.

"Its inhabitants call it 'Earth'," said the man.

"Yes," it admitted. "We already once infiltrated this 'Earth', but we were hindered."

"With your permission, my liege," said the man, "I would like to transport several of your revered Autons in my TARDIS to this piddly little planet. There, I could conquer it and annihilate its primitive natives, and you and your creatures would take stock of its abundant resources."

The Consciousness thought long and hard on this. "If I were to agree…how would you benefit from this?"

The man smiled wickedly. "Why, by the destruction of my greatest enemy…the Doctor."


Sam wiped beads of sweat from his forehead. The Consciousness was putting off massive amounts of heat and steam. "What's that? What's a 'Time Lord'?"

The Doctor didn't reply.

"So, what are you going to do?" Sam asked, realizing that his question would not be answered. "Just tip in your anti-plastic and hit the road?"

The Doctor glared at Sam. "I'm not here to kill it. I've got to give it a chance."


"Good afternoon, Doctor." The man had snuck into the Doctor's lab and waited until the ridiculous human pets had gone to reveal himself. "I hope I'm not interrupting anything important."

He was quite let down by the Doctor—first, to be exiled from Gallifrey and have his TARDIS repossessed, so to speak, and then to resign himself to working for the human government. Really. It was so disappointing.

The Doctor whirled around. The man allowed himself a moment to take in the Doctor's appearance. He was in his third incarnation now, and looked like an old man (the man took a little malicious glee in this; his body was slightly younger and more fit). He had a fantastic grey bouffant, and his clothes were outrageous: a ruffled shirt underneath a flamboyant, navy blue velvet smoking jacket. The man felt himself being scrutinized as well.

"No, no, indeed not," said the Doctor. This body had a deep, soothing voice, which the man hated to admit was quite attractive. The Doctor eyed the TCE clutched in the man's hand. "You've come to kill me, of course."

"Not without considerable regret," admitted the man.

"How very comforting," said the Doctor sardonically.

"You see, Doctor," continued the man, dismissing the Doctor's tone, "you are my intellectual equal. I have so few worthy opponents. And when they've gone, I always miss them."

"Do you realize how utterly ridiculous you sound right now?" said the Doctor. "You've changed. I didn't realize how much I'd warped you. Please forgive me," he added, sounding almost sincere.

"On the contrary," said the man. "I owe you my gratitude. You helped me to see my full potential. To grow beyond the foolish little boy you knew at the Academy."

"That 'foolish little boy' was beautiful," negated the Doctor, now looking a bit saddened. "I do wish he would come back."

"That shall never happen. That little boy died the day his so-called friend betrayed him. And I took his place. How very ironic," said the man, smiling cruelly. "You were your own undoing, Doctor."


"I seek audience with the Nestene Consciousness under peaceful contract," announced the Doctor to the bubbling mass. "According to Convention 15 of the Shadow Proclamation."

The great blob bubbled and rumbled and hissed, but Sam could somehow understand it. It was allowing the Doctor to speak. "Thank you. If I might have permission to approach?"

"Sam?" called a frightened voice.

Sam spotted a trembling mass sitting at the base of the stairs. "Oh my God," he said, racing to the scared woman. "Annie, you're safe! Oh, thank God," he said, hugging her to him.

"Sam," said Annie tearfully, cupping Sam's face. "What the hell is going on?!" she screamed and whispered at the same time.

"Annie, listen to me, I'll explain later. You just run up there, climb out of the manhole, and get out of here," he said.

"But-"

"Please, Annie. Just go! Get yourself home. Please," he pleaded.

Annie whimpered affirmatively and tore out of there.

Sam watched her go. "They kept her alive," he said to the Doctor after she'd gone.

"Yeah, that was always a possibility," said the Doctor, casually descending the steps. He seemed very uninterested in the whole matter. "Keep her alive to maintain the copy."

"You knew that and you never said?!" shouted Sam, anger rising.

"Can we keep the domestics outside, thank you?" asked the Doctor, walking past him and down to the landing jutting out over the Nestene Consciousness. "Am I addressing the Conciousness?"

The bubbly mass let out a hiss. Yes.

"Thank you," said the Doctor. "If I might observe, you infiltrated this civilization by means of war shunt technology. So, may I suggest with the greatest respect that you shunt off?" He gave the blobby creature a cheeky smile.

The Consciousness roared in indignation. "Oh, don't give me that," said the Doctor. "It's an invasion, plain and simple. I know you. We've met before, remember?"


"How did you get in here?" inquired the Doctor.

"Oh, don't be trivial, Doctor," said the man. "I see you've been working on the Nestene autojet," he said, nodding to the plastic yellow flower standing on the Doctor's worktable. "My own small contribution to their invasion plan."

"Vicious, complicated, and inefficient," snapped the Doctor. "Not at all the boy I remember. Not at all like Kosc-"

"You are never to say that name to me again," hissed the man menacingly. "That name has no meaning anymore. There is only me."

The Doctor softened, visibly hurt. "Apologies," he whispered. "Tell me…how do you intend to activate these flowers?"

"Oh, by a radio impulse which the Nestenes will send. I will open the channel for them. We've distributed four hundred and fifty thousand of these daffodils. So when four hundred and fifty thousand people fall dead, the country will be disrupted."

"And in the confusion, the Nestenes will land their invasion force," concluded the Doctor.

"Exactly," said the man, his eyes glittering with malice as he prepared to fire. "It's a shame that you can't be here to enjoy the destruction and chaos with me. Goodbye, Doctor."

"Please, wait," said the Doctor urgently. "Think before you fire that weapon. You don't really want to do this. I know what's truly in your hearts. I know, because it's in my hearts as well."

"Oh, do you?" said the man, glaring him with unbridled hate. "Well, if you know what is in my hearts, then you would know that I swore that I would kill you. And unlike you, Theta," he said, spitting the name out, as if it tasted sour, "I never break a promise."

It was at that moment that poor, unsuspecting Jo Grant burst into the laboratory. She shrieked at the sight of the man.

As he was distracted, the Doctor snatched something from the table and raised a warning hand. "Wait! Don't shoot."

"Doctor, you do disappoint me," scoffed the man. "We Time Lords are expected to face death with dignity."

"Oh no!" gasped Jo, staring wide-eyed at the Doctor in fear.

"Don't worry," said the Doctor, his self-righteous, haughty look having returned. "He's not going to kill me."

The man chuckled at this. "That is your last mistake."

"If you fire that thing," the Doctor threatened, "you will never be able to leave this planet."

"You're bluffing on an empty hand, Doctor."

"I am not bluffing, and my hand, as you can see, is not empty." The man finally noticed that the Doctor did indeed have something clutched in his right hand. "If you kill me," said the Doctor, "you will destroy the dematerialization circuit from your own TARDIS." He held it up to prove that he was not faking. The man stared at it in desperation. "You recognize it, I feel sure."

"Where did you get that?" questioned the man. I hate you, he said telepathically.

I know, answered the Doctor. "The circus."

The man swallowed. "You underestimate me, Doctor. Let me be quite plain: either you hand that unit over to me now…or I kill Miss Grant," he said, aiming the TCE at the young girl, who yelped softly.

No, thought the Doctor. You wouldn't. You're not that evil!

Oh, aren't I? the man shot back bitterly. You wouldn't believe what having a person—a person who supposedly cares about you—breaking your hearts does to you. It is a horrific, cruel process, Doctor.

The Doctor stared sadly at the man, his old friend, his old…what else could he do? The man was right. Koschei was dead.

"Touché," whispered the Doctor dejectedly, as he reached his hand out to surrender the circuit.

"Don't!" cried Jo, grabbing the Doctor's arm. "He's beaten already! They're going to bomb the quarry!"

"JO!" roared the Doctor, but it was too late.

The man's eyebrows shot up in surprise. "Oh," he said softly, a wicked sneer crossing his face. "There's been a slight change in plan, Doctor. I've decided to let you live…for a little while," he added, a triumphant chortle escaping his lips.


"Don't talk about constitutional rights!" exclaimed the Doctor, shaking Sam from his flashback. Who was this evil person? Sam thought back to his original dream. Was this the person who hated the Doctor? And how had he fallen so far from sweet little Koschei, the Academy boy?

The great blob below was hissing and sloshing about in its vat. "I am talking!" shouted the Doctor.

The blob immediately settled down. "This planet is just starting," said the Doctor. "These…stupid little people," he said, gesturing to Sam.

"Hey!" exclaimed Sam indignantly.

"Sorry," said the Doctor, then continued. "-have only just learned how to walk, but they're capable of so much more. I'm asking you on their behalf, please, just go."

"Doctor!" exclaimed Sam, but it was too late. Two sneaky Autons had grabbed the Doctor from behind and one of them was now pulling the vial out of the Doctor's jacket.

The Consciousness roared and bellowed angrily. You came to destroy me! You lie!

"That was just insurance!" cried the Doctor desperately. "I wasn't going to use it! I was not attacking you, I'm here to help! I'm not your enemy. I swear, I'm not!"

Rapscallion, hissed the Consciousness. You will pay for this atrocity. You will pay with your life, and the life of your partner!

"No!" The Doctor threw a desperate glance at Sam. "Please, he's innocent! He had nothing to do with this. He's just some kid who tagged along, I swear! You don't need to bother with him!"

The Consciousness roared some more at the Doctor. "What do you mean?!" he exclaimed.

Suddenly, a panel in the wall drew back and revealed the familiar blue box. "No. Oh, no. Honestly, no!" The Doctor struggled uselessly against the Autons. "Yes, that's my ship…that's not true. I should know, I was there! I fought in the war!"

Destroyer of worlds! Deliverer of genocide!

"It wasn't my fault. I couldn't save your world! I couldn't save any of them!" cried the Doctor.

"What's it doing?!" exclaimed Sam.

"It's the TARDIS!" yelled the Doctor. "The Nestene's identified it as superior technology. It's terrified! It's going to the final phase…it's starting the invasion! Get out, Sam! Just leg it, now!"

Annie! thought Sam. She was running home right now. The streets wouldn't be safe! Sam whipped out his cell phone and punched in her number.

Sam?! Please, you've got to tell me, what's going on? What's that thing down there? What's happening? cried Annie into her phone. It was clear that she was still hysterical.

"Annie, where are you?!" Sam exclaimed.

I'm outside! I'm standing next to that manhole thing-

"No, no, Annie, you've got to run! Just run home right now! Something bad is about to happen! You can't be outside right now! Please, sweetheart, just run!"

"What?" said Annie squeakily. "I can't hear you."

"Go home!" Sam yelled into his phone frustratedly. But the call was lost.

"The Nestene," said the Doctor. "It's started the activation signal. It's transmitting! Just get your girlfriend and get out of here!"

"What, and leave you here?!"

"Yes, and leave me here!" snapped the Doctor.

Sam watched in horror as the blob produced a huge bolt of energy and broadcast it to the ceiling, where it was surely being projected outside by the Eye. "It's the end of the world," he whispered.

Above, chaos. The plastic people were attacking left and right. Civilians were panicking in the street, dying by the number.

Below, disaster. The Doctor stared sadly at Sam as he struggled against the Autons' strong grip. Another life I've ruined, thought the Doctor desperately. Another life to add to the trillions under my belt.

"Just leave me," said the Doctor sadly.

Sam stared the Doctor down. "I can't."

Without warning, Sam turned around and grabbed an axe, for in case of fire, from the wall and turned to look at a chain tacked to the wall. It was something he'd seen in a James Bond flick. It was a long shot, but…

Sam brought the axe down and chopped the rusty chain swiftly. He grasped it in his hand, got a running start and…jumped.

Sam swung, Tarzan style, down to the landing where the Doctor and the Autons stood. His swinging feet knocked into one of them, putting it off balance. The Doctor was able to throw it off the ledge and into the steaming hot blobby mass below. The Consciousness roared at this.

In this same swing, Sam knocked the other one of the landing. It received the same fate its partner had gotten. The vial of anti-plastic was dropped, and the thick blue liquid spilled out onto the Consciousness. It yowled and hissed in pain.

"Sam!" yelled the Doctor, catching the other man as he swung back. The Doctor steadied him. "You alright?" he shouted.

"Bloody brilliant!" exclaimed Sam, grinning brightly.

The Doctor grinned back. The Consciousness continued to moan and wail and writhe. "Now we're in trouble," said the Doctor, chuckling as he watched the blob throw a fit. "Come on!"

The Doctor and Sam raced up the stairs. Around them, the structure was starting to crumble. "In here!" The two dashed inside the TARDIS. The Doctor fiddled with some knobs and pulled some levers on the console. "And away we go!"

The TARDIS began to dematerialize, and transported them away from the Consciousness and the Autons and the imploding room.


The blue box appeared in the parking lot in front of the Powell Estates. The door opened and Sam stepped out. "Man, what a rush!" he exclaimed, laughing.

The Doctor followed, smiling too. "Nestene Consciousness?" He snapped his fingers. "Easy."

Sam scoffed. "You were useless in there. You'd be dead if it wasn't for me!"

"Yes, I would," agreed the Doctor. He looked at his shoes. "Thank you," he added slowly.

There was a moment's silence. Then, finally, the Doctor looked up and spoke again. "Right then! I'll be off." He paused awkwardly. "Unless, uh…I don't know." He shrugged his shoulders. "You could come with me."

Sam stared at the Doctor. What?

"This box isn't just a London hopper, you know," said the Doctor. "It goes anywhere in the universe. Free of charge." He laughed a little. "What do you think?"

Sam opened his mouth, then closed it again, not sure what to say.

"You could fill your life with work and food and sleep. Or you could go…anywhere," said the Doctor.

Sam felt lost. "Is it always this dangerous?"

The Doctor nodded playfully. "Yep!"

"Er…I can't," said Sam. "I've got people and…things…I couldn't just…"

"Yeah," said the Doctor, nodding. "I get it." He forced himself to smile. "See you around then."

The Doctor went inside his magic blue box and shut the door. After a second or two, the TARDIS began to wheeze and groan as it faded out of existence.

Sam stared at the empty spot for a long time, feeling a pain in his chest. He felt as though someone had just offered him a winning lottery ticket and he had thrown it away.

Déjà vu.

Sam sighed and turned to walk away, stuffing his hands in the pockets of his hoodie. But only after five paces, he heard the noise again and turned around.

The Doctor stuck his head out of the door of the TARDIS. "By the way, did I mention? It also travels in time."

Well that explains earlier, mused Sam.

The Doctor shrugged and walked back inside, leaving the door open.

Sam stood there for a moment, staring at the crazy blue box. He slowly grinned and ran through the doors, soaking them shut behind him.


Koschei was looking for Theta. "Ushas!" he called, seeing his classmate up ahead. He caught up with her. "Have you seen Theta Sigma?"

Ushas stared at him in disbelief. "You haven't heard?" she asked incredulously.

"Heard what?"

"You know. About what your boyfriend did."

Koschei reddened. "He's not my boyfriend!...Wait, what did he do?"

"You really don't know?" She raised an eyebrow. "Koschei…Theta Sigma stole a TARDIS and ran away."

Koschei stopped. His blood ran cold. "What?"

Ushas nodded. "Yep. If he ever comes back here…ooh, he's gonna get it!"

Koschei shook his head. He was feeling sick. "No. That can't be true."

"Sorry," shrugged Ushas. "It's what I know."

"NO!" shouted Koschei, quivering with anger. "You're lying! Thete wouldn't just…leave! He wouldn't leave…me." Koschei whispered this last word.

"Koschei of Oakdown, what is all this commotion?" said the Earth Studies professor, Clavin, coming up behind the upset Koschei.

"Ushas says that-that Theta Sigma ran away," exclaimed Koschei.

Professor Clavin's face turned solemn. He bent down and touched the boy's shoulder . "Koschei..."

"No! I won't believe it!" exclaimed Koschei, blinking back tears. He knew that his shouting was attracting stares, but he didn't care.

"Koschei…I'm afraid it's the truth. Theta Sigma is gone."

Koschei stared into the professor's eyes for the longest time. A dull, angry beat drummed in his head. He brushed off the professor's comforting hand and took off running.

"Koschei!" cried Professor Clavin, but Koschei didn't stop. He kept on running…until he'd found the room he was looking for.

He threw open the door to the TARDIS greenhouse and looked around. There, right in front, a plant was standing, but its fruit was missing. The TARDIS that he and Theta had shared their first kiss in.

Koschei's lavender eyes welled up with tears. Theta…his Theta had abandoned him.

Koschei dropped to the ground, tears streaming down his face, howling, crying out for his Theta. Theta, my Theta. Come back for me…

After nearly an hour of Koschei's heartbroken sobs, the young boy picked himself up. He angrily wiped the tears from his cheeks. Koschei felt a pressure inside him. His broken hearts were being compressed, forming two cold, black stones.

"You lied to me, Theta Sigma," whispered Koschei, embracing that hot, white, burning anger churning inside of his stomach. "You said it'd be you and me. You promised. And you lied."

"I'll find you," said the boy, his voice become harsher and deeper, more resembling that of the man he would be become: the Master. "I swear, I won't rest until I find you. And then, my dear Theta…I will kill you."

Chapter Text

"Right then, Sam Tyler," said the Doctor, moments after the man had joined him in the TARDIS. "You tell me. Where do you want to go: backwards or forwards in time? It's your choice. What's it gonna be?"

Sam couldn't even imagine what to say. The Doctor was offering to show him the whole pantheon of time and space, and he just didn't know where to start. "Forwards," he finally answered.

The Doctor grinned and flipped a few switches on the console. "How far?" he asked.

Sam shrugged. "A hundred years?"

The Doctor, in response, hit a few more controls. The TARDIS began to tremor as it dematerialized. Then, it stopped abruptly, and the Doctor pointed to the double doors. "There you go. Step outside those doors, it's the twenty second century."

Sam stared disbelievingly at the doors. "You're kidding me."

"That's a bit boring though," said the Doctor. "Do you want to go a bit further?"

Sam grinned. "Fine by me, mate!"

Another series of tremors, and they had arrived in a new location. "Ten thousand years in the future," said the Doctor. "Step outside, it's the year 12,005. The new Roman empire."

Sam snorted. "You think you're so impressive."

The Doctor's face fell a bit. "I am so impressive!" he insisted.

"You think you're so impressive!" laughed Koschei as Theta brandished his new invention.

"I am so impressive," replied Theta smugly. "This sonic…thingamabob-"

"'Thingamabob'?" chuckled Koschei. "Is that a technical term?"

"Well, I haven't exactly named it yet," admitted Theta. "But it's impressive, right?"

"Not very impressive for a weapon."

Theta looked shocked. "It's not a weapon, Kos! It's a tool! You know I despise weapons."

Koschei rolled his eyes. "Sometimes weapons are a necessary evil."

"Not if I can help it," said Theta flatly. "Anyway, you see, the sonic device works by emitting high pitched frequencies that manipulate molecular-mmph!"

Theta's technobabble was cut off by a kiss from Koschei. "Sorry," he said, smirking. "But you know how your technical jargon…excites me."

"Really?" said Theta, hiding a sly smile. "I hadn't noticed."

"Oh, do shut up," said Koschei, pulling him in for another.

Sam rolled his eyes. "Whatever, Mister Spaceman."

"Right, then. You asked for it." The Doctor began going to town on his console. "I know exactly where to go. Hold on!"

The TARDIS trembled and shook as it flew through the Time Vortex. Sam had to grab onto the console to avoid falling. The Doctor grinned, waggling his eyebrows mischievously at Sam.

Then, the shaking stopped.

Sam stood. "Where are we?"

The Doctor made for the doors. "Why don't we find out?"

Sam began to follow the Doctor, but stopped all of a sudden, and started rubbing his temples.

"Something wrong?" asked the Doctor.

"Just…a headache." The dull, aching beat from the night before had returned. It felt like someone tapping sharply at the sides of his head. One-two-three-four. One-two-three-four.

"I'm fine," Sam said. "Really."

The Doctor wasn't so sure. See, he hadn't picked Sam up just because he was lonely (okay, maybe a little because he was lonely). The encounter with the Nestene had made him very suspicious. Sam seemed to have some level of telepathic ability. Perhaps one even more elevated than the Doctor's. How else, then, had Sam heard the Nestene Consciousness's thought when he hadn't? The only other way was if the Nestene had purposely projected to Sam. If that was so, the Nestene had made a mistake. He'd been addressing a Time Lord, and the only one in the room was the Doctor. But telepaths very rarely made mistakes of that nature. Whoever Sam Tyler was, he certainly had a powerful mind.

"Okay," said the Doctor suddenly, smiling uncharacteristically friendlily at Sam. "Let's go." He turned sharply on his heel and was about to place his hand on the door handle, but Sam said suddenly, "Doctor."

"Yes?" said the Doctor, turning around again.

"Listen…there's something I have to tell you," said Sam, looking a bit uncomfortable as he shoved his hands into the pockets of his hoodie.

The Doctor silently waited for Sam to spill.

"I'm…straight."

It took the Doctor a moment to react. "What?"

"Yeah, I mean, you're a good looking bloke and all, but I…I don't swing that way," Sam said, shrugging his shoulders.

The Doctor still did not follow. "Er…what do you mean?"

Sam sighed and said gently, "So if you've invited me onto your ship because you think you and me-"

"Oh! Oh, no, no!" said the Doctor quickly, finally understanding. "No, absolutely not!"

"No?" said Sam, looking a little relieved.

"Trust me, I'm really not looking for that kind of relationship," assured the Doctor.

"Good," said Sam, taking his hands out of his pockets and dropping his arms, relaxed. "'Cause I have a girlfriend, you know. And like I said-"

"You don't swing that way, got it," said the Doctor, in a hurry to check out the new frontier he landed them in (and in a hurry to get away from this awkward subject). "Now, can we please go?"

"Yeah, sure, of course," said Sam distractedly. "Er, Doctor?"

"What?!" the Doctor groaned, whirling around.

"Do you…swing that way?" Sam immediately looked at his shoes.

The Doctor was taken by surprise with this question. "Well, I…I mean…" He sighed. "Listen, Sam. I've made a lot of friends over the years. I'm not as young as I look. And yes, some of them…I do…dance with."

"'Dance'?" repeated Sam.

"Yes, dance," said the Doctor, the tips of his colossal ears reddening.

"And some of them…male?" persisted Sam.

The Doctor thought back. On Gallifrey, there really was no concept of sexual orientation. In fact, gender was really only a mindset (a constriction for some, considering that Time Lords had the ability to change sex. The Doctor himself had always been male, but someday, perhaps…). Plus, the whole process of reproduction on Gallifrey was achieved by means of incubation. The offspring were reared in artificial genetic looms, so the activity of sex in of itself was really just recreational. The Gallifreyan race saw individuals' souls, rather than their anatomy. The "hipsters" from the human race would call it "pansexual". So no, he'd never really differentiated between men and women.

The truth was, the Doctor had had several "dancing" partners over the years, both male and female. Susan, his granddaughter, had a grandmother. A female grandmother, to be clear. He'd had a few dalliances with men and women throughout the universe. Queens and princesses seemed to be particularly drawn to him (a few princes, too).

The Doctor had never particularly traveled with anyone he'd "danced" with, save for a special few. There was Fitz Kreiner, whom he had traveled with in his eighth life, as well a few shared kisses with Grace Holloway, though she ultimately turned down his offer to join him in the TARDIS. Then there was Turlough in his fifth life, and he was pretty sure Romana and his fourth self had danced a bit too. Although, it was hard to remember. They went to quite a few mad parties, usually stocked with plenty of hyper-vodka. Anything could have happened.

And, of course, in his younger days, there was Susan's grandmother, and then in his second form, he'd danced a bit with his companion, Jamie McCrimmon. He didn't really know why. The enthusiastic Highlander was really just a boy when the Doctor had picked him up. Maybe it was the dark shaggy hair, or the youthful fighter's spirit. But Jamie had undoubtedly reminded the Doctor of…

"Yes. A couple," the Doctor answered finally.

Sam nodded. "Hey, that's cool. None of my business though. Sorry," he added.

The Doctor kind of laughed at this, though Sam fancied he could read a kind of pained look on the Doctor's face, as if he'd drudged up some old, hurtful memory. "It's just strange," commented the Doctor. "Most of the time, the people I pick up usually ask stuff like 'how is the TARDIS bigger on the inside' or 'where are you from' or 'what's your real name'. But you, you leap right in for the big question: sex."

"Well, let me put it this way…" Sam rubbed the back of his neck, not sure how to word it. The Doctor, a.k.a. Theta Sigma, had to be the same man from his visions. "Have you ever loved anyone?"

"Sure," said the Doctor, shrugging. "Tons of people."

"No, Doctor. I don't mean family, I don't mean friends. I mean, have you ever been in a serious, committed relationship. Have you ever been in love."

The questions came out in statements. The Doctor swallowed, and his mind wandered to long ago. Centuries back, to his Academy years, to his…

"Once. But it was a long time ago."

The tone in the Doctor's voice rang with finality. "Now," said the Doctor, finally getting a hand on that doorknob. "Let's go see where we've landed. Shall we?"

Sam nodded.

The Doctor smiled. "Fantastic."

And he opened the door.

 

-

 

The TARDIS had landed in a simple enough looking room. The walls were beige, the floor was tile. The room, void of much furniture, was alit with small blue lamps placed strategically around the perimeter.

The TARDIS was perched on top of a higher level. The center of the room was sunk in. Sam descended the steps to head toward the opposite wall, where the most spectacular thing about the room was. And spectacular it was indeed.

"You lot," said the Doctor, flanking Sam. "You spend all your time thinking about dying. Like you're gonna get killed by eggs or beef or global warming or asteroids." He stared out at the same thing Sam was focused on. "But you never take the time to imagine the impossible…that maybe you survive."

They were in space.

Sam and the Doctor were both staring out of a wide picture window, which gave visage to an extraordinary vista: the stars, as Sam had never seen them before. The sky was an inky black blanket, with tiny white diamonds superimposed on it. The room, as it were, was apparently part of some kind of space station. And it was directly stationed over a huge, luminous blue orb, swirling with white clouds: Earth. As seen from the heavens.

They were in space. He, Sam Tyler, was in space.

"This is the year five-point-five-slash-apple-twenty-six," said the Doctor, as Sam continued to gaze, entranced, at the breath taking view. "Five billion years in your future. And this is the day…hold on," he muttered, checking his wrist watch (which Sam now realized was rather silly to wear. For a time traveler, the only function a watch would have was telling you how much time had passed). He waited a moment, then looked up.

As if on cue, the scene outside burst with fiery light. The sun, Sam realized.

"This is the day it expands," said the Doctor, nodding to the enormous fireball, towering over the calm blue sphere. He gave Sam a look that held all the wisdom and experience the universe had ever produced.

"Welcome to the end of the world."

Chapter Text

Shuttles five and six now docking. Guests are reminded that Platform One forbids the use of weapons, teleportation, and religion, announced a computerized voice over a PA system.

Sam stared out the bay window in astonishment. "How long's it got?" asked Sam.

"About half an hour," said the Doctor, again checking his watch. "Then the whole planet gets roasted."

"Is that why we're here?" asked Sam. "I mean, is that what you do? Jump in at the last minute and save the Earth?"

"I'm not saving it," said the Doctor. "Time's up."

"But…" Sam gazed out at the orange and blue and black scape before him. "What about the people?"

"It's empty," said the Doctor. "They're all gone. No one left."

Sam let this sink in. "Just me then."

Don't be so sure.

"Who the hell are you?!" Sam's thoughts were disrupted by a sharp, hoity-toity voice. He whirled around to a see a towering figure in a regal gold and brown robe, complete with matching headpiece. But what was shocking was the man's (It was a man, right?) face. His skin was bright blue, even brighter blue than the TARDIS, as if the man took a bath in paint. His eyebrows were sharp, black lines arching highly over his gold colored, slitted eyes.

"Oh, that's nice, thanks," said the Doctor nonchalantly, as if bright blue, snake-eyed people were a daily occurrence in his life. (They probably were, thought Sam to himself.)

"How did you get in?" demanded Blue, marching straight up to the Doctor. "This is a maximum hospitality zone! The guests have disembarked! They're on their way any second now."

"That's me," said the Doctor cheerfully, pulling a well worn leather wallet out of his leather jacket (for a moment, Sam wondered what else the Doctor had in leather, then blushed at that thought) and flipping it open. "I'm a guest," he said, showing Blue some identification. "Look, I've got an invitation. The Doctor, plus one. I'm the Doctor, and this is Sam Tyler, my plus one," he said, jerking a thumb at Sam. "Is that alright?"

The blue maître d' gave pause to this. "Well…obviously," he said, pulling himself together. "Apologies, et cetera. If you're on board, we'd better start. Enjoy." And with a flap of his robe, he turned on his heel and took his position behind the podium.

"Psychic paper," said the Doctor, showing Sam his wallet. Inside, he saw a simple, blank piece of white paper. "It shows them whatever I want them to see. Saves a lot of time."

"I don't see anything," said Sam.

The Doctor's eyebrows shot up. "What?"

"Is that…bad?" Sam asked tentatively.

"Er…no," said the Doctor, quickly stowing the wallet away in his jacket again.

"So…he's blue," said Sam.

"Sorry if it's not your favorite color," said the Doctor.

"No, it's just that he's…" Sam tried to find the right word.

"Alien?"

"Yeah. That."

The Doctor nodded. "I did warn you. And they'll be a lot more where that came from."

"We have in attendance the Doctor and Sam Tyler," said Blue, in an announcer's voice. "Thank you. All staff to their positions."

A dozen or so butlers came scuttling out. They looked identical to the host, except dressed in simple black robes. "See what I mean?" said the Doctor to Sam. "And this is just the tip of the iceberg. Watch."

"Come along, come along," the host urged the staff. "And now, if I might introduce the next honored guest?"

Sam's eyes drank in all the patrons of the platform with the wide eyed amazement of a child: curious, eager, and amazed, but not disbelieving.

To be honest, Sam had grown up secretly wanting to be an astronaut. To put on the white suit, climb into the shuttle, and take off for new frontiers. Explore planets and meet new life forms not native to Earth. Never did he expect to actually achieve this goal. Especially not in this context!

There were the tree people from the Forest of Cheam, Jabe, Lute, and Coffa. Then there was the Moxx of Balhoon, a short, stubby-legged creature with grey-blue skin and a lightbulb shaped skull. This specimen was the closest in resemblance to the "aliens" in Sam's Earth's pop culture. The Adherents of the Repeated Meme were a ominous looking group, sheathed completely in black cloaks. The brothers Hop Plyleen, inventors of something or other, looked like Earth alligators that simply walked on their hind legs and wore clothing. The Face of Boe, a giant, wrinkled face in a jar. And so many others.

The tree woman, Jabe, approached Sam and the Doctor first. "The gift of peace," she said, beckoning her bodyguard, Lute (or was it Coffa?) to hand the Doctor a potted plant. "I bring you a cutting from my grandfather," she said, gazing upon them regally. She was clearly royalty on her planet, whatever it was called.

"Thank you," said the Doctor, sounding humbled, as he took the plant. He handed the plant off to Sam, muttering, "Yes, gifts…um…" He cleared his throat. "I give you in return…air from my lungs." He blew into the tree woman's face.

Sam wondered what the Doctor had eaten last.

The tree woman didn't seem to mind; in fact, she seemed to absorb the Doctor's breath gladly. "How…intimate," she said. Sam couldn't be sure, but were the patches of bark where Jabe's cheeks should be blushing?

"There's more where that came from," said the Doctor, smiling.

Jabe looked the Doctor over briefly. "I bet there is," she said, smiling as well.

Sam raised an eyebrow.

As the trees moved on, the other various aliens came up and greeted the Doctor. Sam was spit on by the Moxx of Balhoon (well, he supposed that wasn't much better than the Doctor's "air from my lungs" bit), and the Adherents handed the Doctor a simple looking metal ball.

"And last but not least," announced the host. "Our very special guest. Ladies and gentlemen, and trees, and multiforms, consider the Earth below. In memory of this dying world, we call forth the last human…the Lady Cassandra O'Brien Dot Delta Seventeen."

Oh good, thought Sam. I won't be the only…

But upon seeing the Lady Cassandra, he quickly changed his mind.

She (it?) was…flat. Completely and totally flat.

Lady Cassandra was Silly Putty. Flesh colored Silly Putty that someone had stretched across a metal frame. Her translucent skin was so tightly stretched out that Sam could make faint blood vein occasionally pulsing through her. The only other distinguishable feature about her was her face: two eyes caked with eyeliner, two faint nose holes, and rougey red lips, accompanied by a small brown beauty mark.

"Oh, now, don't stare," she said, smiling a wide lipstick smile at the other patrons as her attendants wheeled her metal frame in. The attendants themselves were all in white, and carrying huge spray bottles, like insect exterminators. "I know, I know, it's shocking, isn't it? I've had my chin completely taken away, and look at the difference! Look how thin I am. Thin and dainty!" She beamed. "I don't look a day over 2000!" Then, to her attendants, she whispered, "Moisturize me. Moisturize me."

The attendant to her left spritzed the surface of Cassandra's flesh with the spray bottle.

Cassandra smiled proudly. "Truly, I am the last human."

Beside Sam, the Doctor was silently laughing. "That's…human?" Sam whispered in horror. "In the future?"

"Yep," said the Doctor, having trouble holding in his sniggers.

Sam slowly crept around the room to view the back of Cassandra as she continued to speak. "My father was a Texan," she said. "My mother was from the arctic desert. They were born on the Earth and were the last to be buried in its soil. I have come to honor them and say goodbye." She gave a clearly feigned sniffle. "Oh, no tears, no tears. I'm sorry. But behold, I bring gifts. From Earth itself…the last remaining ostrich egg."

Behind her, a butler came in, carrying the egg. "Legend says it had a wingspan of fifty feet and blew fire from its nostrils," said Cassandra, then paused. "Or was that my third husband? Oh, no. Oh, don't laugh. I'll get laughter lines!" She struggled to keep her composure. "And here, another rarity."

Another butler came in, wheeling in a 1950's jukebox. "According to the archives, this was called an iPod. It stores classical music from humanity's greatest composers. Play on!"

The butler pressed a button. A record inside began spinning, and Soft Cell's "Tainted Love" played out of the machine.

"Refreshments will be served," said the host over the music. "Earth death in thirty minutes."

The Doctor, enjoying the music, caught sight of Sam rushing for the doors. He made to go after him, but was stopped by the tree queen. "Smile," said Jabe, taking what the Doctor assumed was a picture with what he assumed was a camera. "Thank you," she said, smiling mysteriously.

The Doctor nodded to the queen, then rushed off after his companion.

 

-

 

Sam had found his way back to the room where the TARDIS had materialized. He was messing around with the metal ball the Adherents have given he and the Doctor.

Earth death in twenty five minutes, said the cool electronic voice over the loud speaker.

"Oh, yeah. Great," said Sam.

He sighed and set the ball down. He looked at the plant beside him, the one that the tree lady had given him. He picked it up and looked at it. "Hello," he said. "I'm Sam…I used to have a cactus. But…it died. I gave it too much water; apparently, cacti don't need that much water…I'm talking to a twig," he said, putting the plant back down.

"Sam? Are you in there?" The doors slid open and the Doctor entered. "Aye-aye," he said, plopping down on the floor next to Sam. "What do you think, then?"

"Well, to be honest…weird. Really weird," answered Sam honestly.

"Oh?" The Doctor propped up his head with his hand. "What do you mean?"

"It's just…they're alien. The aliens are alien," said Sam. "You look at them…and they're alien."

"Good thing I didn't take you to the deep south," said the Doctor, chuckling a bit.

Sam gave the Doctor a long hard look. "So…where are you from, anyway?"

The Doctor shrugged. "All over the place."

Sam thought of that meadow of scarlet grass, with the orange and yellow sky. The alien planet. Koschei's planet. "They all speak English," he said, suddenly realizing this.

"No. You just hear English." The Doctor lay down on his side. "Gift of the TARDIS. Gets inside your head, translates."

Sam was silent. "Bloody hell…look. Just who exactly are you, Doctor? I mean, I know you're a bit of a space pimp, but other than that, I just don't know anything about you. I mean…what are you called? What sort of alien are you?"

"I'm just the Doctor," he said shortly, sitting up and looking away.

"From what planet?"

The Doctor snorted a bit at this. "It's not as if you'd know where it is."

And in that moment, Sam could tell that the Doctor was thinking of that orange planet too. "Where are you from?" he pressed. He wanted a name.

"What does it matter?" snapped the Doctor.

"Tell me who you are!"

"This is who I am, right here, right now! Alright?!" shouted the Doctor. "All that counts is here and now, and this is me!"

"Yeah, and I'm here too!" Sam exclaimed. "Because you brought me here!"

"You're the one that wanted to come," grumbled the Doctor, getting up and stomping away to stare out the wide window.

The computerized voice above announced that the death of the Earth would be in twenty minutes. Sam sighed and came beside the Doctor. "Well…as Annie would say…don't argue with the designated driver. Sorry."

The Doctor grunted, and Sam assumed he was forgiven. There was an awkward silence. "Anyone you want to call?" asked the Doctor finally.

"Huh?" Sam thought of Annie. "No. Not really. I mean, what's the point? Everyone I know died five billion years ago."

"Bundle of laughs, you are," commented the Doctor.

Suddenly, the space station rumbled a bit. "That's not supposed to happen," said the Doctor.

Suddenly, the cool computerized voice came on over the intercom. Sun filter descending. Sun filter descending. Sun filter descending.

"Uh, Doctor?" asked Sam. "What do they mean by 'sun filter descending'?"

The Doctor turned to look at him, fear alight in his blue eyes. "It means we're all going to die!"

 

-

 

The Doctor managed to save Sam and most of the others on board. Unfortunately, Jabe the tree queen, the steward, the Moxx, and a few others were lost.

But he let Cassandra die.

"Have pity!" she cried. "Moisturize me! Oh, oh, Doctor! Oh, I'll do anything!"

"Help her," said Sam quietly. "Isn't that what you do?"

The Doctor wouldn't look at Sam. "Everything has its time. And everything dies."

"I'm…too…young!" And like a balloon, Cassandra's flesh withered and popped.

The Doctor, without a word, turned and walked away. And Sam followed.

The Master laughed wickedly. The numismation gas had revived him back to his full size, and now, he had more power than he knew what to do with.

The Doctor, in his fifth form, watched on in horror. From the blue blaze, the Master cried out, "I shall come out of this fire a thousand times stronger, to hound you to the borders of the universe!"

But Turlough had succeeded below in cutting off the gas feed. The blue flames faded to bare yellow fire.

The Master, unable to move, watched in horror as the flames that once revived him now began to burn away at his flesh. "No!" he cried out. "Cancel the ray injection immediately!" he ordered the Doctor.

But the Doctor simply stood there, watching, unable to move.

"Doctor!" roared the Master. "I'll plague you till the end of time for this!" Then he changed his tactics. "Help me! I'll give you anything in creation. Please!"

But the Doctor still just stood there, unwilling to save him.

The Master stared at the Doctor, heartbrokenly. He whispered, in one last attempt to reach out whatever was left of his old friend, "Won't you show mercy to your own-"

But his final plea was cut off by cries of agony as the Master burned to a crisp.

The Doctor, in shock, watched the flames continue to sizzle and pop, then turned and walked back to his TARDIS, a heaviness in his hearts.

"Doctor?" asked the American girl, Peri, as the Doctor came in and took his place at the console. "Are you okay?"

The Doctor blinked. He had forgotten she was there. "Er, yes, of course. I'm alright."

 

-

 

The TARDIS brought them to a street corner in London, in Sam's time. "You think it'll last forever," said the Doctor. "People and cars and concrete. But it won't. One day, it's all gone." The Doctor looked up. "Even the sky."

Sam watched the Doctor as he spoke. The Doctor took a long breath.

"My planet's gone," said the Doctor. "It's dead." He looked at Sam. "It burned, like the Earth. It's just rocks and dust." He looked at the ground. "Before its time."

Sam wasn't sure what to say. "What…happened?" he asked.

The Doctor blinked. "There was a war. And we lost."

Sam felt a seizing pain, and the drums in his head increased. One-two-three-four. One-two-three-four. "A war with who?" he asked, ignoring them.

But the Doctor didn't reply.

Sam cleared his throat. "What about your people?" he asked.

The Doctor finally looked back up. "I'm a Time Lord," he admitted. "I'm the last of the Time Lords. They're all gone. I'm the only survivor."

Don't be so sure.

"I'm left traveling on my own, cause there's no one else," said the Doctor.

"You're not alone," said Sam. "There's me."

The Doctor smiled a bit. This Sam kid was a nice bloke. Why did he remind him of someone… "You've seen how dangerous it is," said the Doctor. "Do you want to go home?"

Sam shook his head. "No. Not really. I want…" But a certain smell caught his fancy. "Oh. Can you smell chips?" It had just occurred to Sam that he hadn't eaten in a long time.

The Doctor sniffed the air and laughed. "Yeah."

"I want chips," said Sam. That was the one thing he was sure about right now.

"Me too," said the Doctor, grinning again. Sam was glad. The Doctor had a nice grin.

"Right then," said Sam, grinning himself. "Before we take off again, chips it is. And you can pay," he added.

The Doctor shrugged. "No money."

Sam snorted. "Right tightwad you are. Fine. Chips on me, then. After all, we've only got five billion years till the shops close!"

Chapter Text

"So, Sam," said the Doctor, licking salt off of his fingers. "What about you?"

Sam shrugged. "What about me?"

"I mean, who are you? Who is Sam Tyler? Is Sam short for 'Samuel'? Got a middle name?"

Sam laughed. "Who's being nosy now?"

"I want to know," said the Doctor. "I mean, all you've done is ask me questions."

"Excuse me," said Sam, raising a haughty eyebrow. "I do believe I saved your arse from some wicked mean store dummies, thank you very much."

"I meant after that," said the Doctor dismissively. "Stop dodging the question. What are you about?"

"Oh, I don't know. Just your average bloke, I guess."

"Really? Nothing at all?" the Doctor asked. "What about a family? You got a family, don't you?"

Sam ate a chip and chewed slowly and thoroughly before speaking. He knew he was driving the Doctor mad, but he didn't care. Frankly, it made laugh a little to see the Doctor asking questions and not receiving answers. Give him a taste of his own medicine.

"No family," he finally said. "Just foster parents. The Tylers, Jackie and Pete. They were my first. But the missus gave me up. Couldn't raise a child alone. Husband got hit by a car and died. I don't remember much though, was only a tot back then. But that's how I got my name: Sam Tyler. I didn't have a name beforehand. I was found as a baby on the stoop of the orphanage. So they named me. And I kept it."

Sam paused a bit, then added, "I tried to get in touch with the missus a few years ago. But somehow, the agency lost track of her. Sad. I wish I could tell her thank you. Both of them, really."

"So, after that…what happened?" asked the Doctor.

"Oh, I switched around from foster family to foster family. I had five or six or so. But," he laughed a little, "I was kind of a problem child. I always was getting into trouble."

"How so?" asked the Doctor.

Sam laughed again. "Did you know…I wanted to be an astronaut? Yeah. See space and all that. Never really pictured actually doing it, especially not like this. But yeah…I was always trying to build rocket ships out of old spare parts. One time, my foster mum found me in the garage, nine years old, trying to build a space ship out of the parts from her husband's car! Should've seen her face!"

The Doctor cracked up at this. "Yeah, it was pretty bad," said Sam. "Needless to say…I was shortly deported back to the adoption agency."

"Well, what was high school like?" asked the Doctor. "Did you ever get your a-levels?"

"No," said Sam. "I was too busy getting a band together with my mate, Jimmy Stone."

"What did you play?" asked the Doctor, curious.

"The drums."

"Ah," said the Doctor. "And the name of this band?"

"'Driveshaft'," replied Sam. "We all lived in an apartment in the Powell Estates together. Me, Jimmy, and these two brothers, Liam and Charlie Pace. We had one song, and it was really great. Got on the radio and everything. It was one of those songs that's popular just cause it's really catchy. It went 'you all everybody…you all everybody…'"

The Doctor suddenly joined in. "Actin' like them stupid people, wearin' expensive clothes."

"You know it?" asked Sam, surprised.

The Doctor laughed. "Of course I know it! Even a hundred years in the future, that song is still around. I just can't believe I'm actually talkin' to one of the original artists! You're like Ringo in the future, you know that?"

"Yeah, but Ringo's the one no one really paid much attention to," Sam pointed out.

The Doctor shrugged. "Ah, still. Well, why did Driveshaft break up? Wasn't it a drug problem, or something?"

"Yeah…oh, no, not me!" he added, seeing the Doctor's shocked expression. "No, I'd never do something like that, no. Liam and Jimmy, they got into the heroin, and later, so did Charlie, and by that time, we were dying out. So, the band broke up. Charlie and Jimmy went off God knows where, and Liam went to Australia to get himself clean. Hope it works. Poor mate."

"So long story short, I moved into the apartment by myself, took a job at Hunt's Department Shop, and boom. Full circle," Sam concluded, chucking his chips wrapper in the trash bin.

The Doctor nodded, having soaked all this in. "And…what about Annie?"

Sam laughed. "That is a long story. I guess I have Jimmy to thank for her."

"What, he introduced you two?"

"In a manner of speaking," Sam chuckled. "He and Liam had been getting zonked before a concert, and when they got out on stage, they were pretty drunk. The cops had to end up being called. I went with the two of them to the police station, and the constable on staff was Annie. We got to talking and joking, and before I know it, I'm asking her out for coffee. Annie's the best thing that ever happened to me, honestly."

"Although," he added after a thought. "This whole adventure we've had? It definitely comes a close second."

The Doctor hid a smile. "Yeah, well…you looked bored."

"Not bored," said Sam. "Just…lost, I guess. And besides, you looked like you didn't have a friend in the world. Everybody needs a mate…no, not like that!" he exclaimed at the Doctor's surprised look. "I meant…you know…a buddy. A pal. You know."

"Yeah…" After a moment of looking far off, the Doctor jumped up. "Come on. Let's get out of here."

Chapter Text

"Hold that one down!"

"I am holding this one down!"

"Well hold both of them down!"

"It's not going to work!" Sam cried out in frustration, straining to reach the lever while maintaining his grip on the other. He asked the Doctor curiously if he would teach him how to fly the TARDIS, but for some reason, it wasn't going very well.

"Oi! I promised you a time machine and that's what you're getting!" The Doctor punched a few buttons, and the shaking continued, but thankfully became less fervent. The Doctor looked triumphant. "Now, you've seen the future. Let's have a look at the past! 1860, how does 1860 sound?"

"What happened in 1860?" asked Sam.

"I don't know, let's find out. Hold on, here we go!" The Doctor grabbed a lever and pulled back.

The TARDIS touched down with a nasty jolt, sending Sam and the Doctor crashing to the floor. "Blimey," groaned Sam as the Doctor let out a joyous cackle.

"You're telling me. You alright?" asked the Doctor.

"Yeah, I think so," said Sam, laughing now as well. "Nothing broken." He stood up and joined the Doctor at the computer. "Did we make it? Where are we?"

"I did it! Give the man a medal," cheered the Doctor. He was in rather a good mood, having Sam on board. The TARDIS didn't feel quite so empty now. "Earth, Naples, December 24, 1860."

"Why Christmas Eve?" asked Sam.

"Dunno," shrugged the Doctor. "Sounds good though."

"It's just…brilliant," said Sam, grinning. "Because this, here, now…it's all over. Except for you, though."

The Doctor smiled. "Not a bad life, eh?"

Sam shrugged, looking away. "Yeah, but…better with a friend, right?"

The Doctor nodded. "Friends are good."

"Well…come on, then," said Sam, breaking for the door.

"Oi, where do you think you're going?" asked the Doctor.

"Er…1860?"

"Go out there dressed like that, you'll start a riot, Marty McFly," teased the Doctor, gesturing to Sam's blue jeans, grey trainers, casual button up, and black hoodie. "There's a wardrobe through there. First left, second right, third on the left, go straight ahead, under the stairs, past the bins, fifth door on your left."

Sam rolled his eyes. "A costume change. Are you joshing me, mate?"

"I never josh…much," said the Doctor, flashing a toothy grin reminiscent of his fourth incarnation. "Now hurry up!"

Laughing, Sam took off up the stairs.

-

"I suppose he neglected to mention there won't be any place left to spend your money!" The Doctor's words were punctuated by a sharp slap from Grace, heavily under the Master's mind control. She was beyond help, but if he could make the boy see reason-

"Which is why we have no time to waste," said a sinister voice from the balcony of the TARDIS.

The Doctor, strapped securely to the gurney, twisted his head around to address the Master. "But time to change!" he shouted sardonically, as the Master descended the staircase, adorned with formal Gallifreyan robes, black and crimson with grand gold embroidery.

The Master, in his stolen American body, smiled wickedly. His feline-like eyes (surely remnants of the virus he had contracted on the cheetah planet) were still sheathed behind aviator-style sunglasses. He gestured with his arms, modeling his ensemble. "I always dress for the occasion."

-

The Doctor was ferreting around in the "basement" of the TARDIS with his sonic screwdriver when Sam emerged. "I don't know, Doctor. D'ya think it's too…much?"

"What?" The Doctor raised his head and stopped short.

Sam was dressed in simple black trousers and shoes, a white shirt with grand baggy sleeves, a dark burgundy vest, and a black floppy bow tie. He looked surprisingly dashing. The Doctor was quite taken off guard. "Blimey…" he finally said.

"Oi, one little giggle-" Sam threatened.

"No, no, you look…" The Doctor cleared his throat. "Very period appropriate," he said, looking down, continuing to scan the ship's wiring. He was trying to hide his pink cheeks.

"Er…I think that's a compliment," said Sam. Then he realized that the Doctor was still wearing his normal clothes. "Aren't you going to change?" he asked.

"I changed my jumper," said the Doctor cheekily. He climbed up to the main level of the control room and headed to the door. "Come on!"

"No!" said Sam, racing him. "You get to do this all the time. This one's my turn!"

Sam opened the door…and a light fall of snow immediately fell into his light brown hair. "Er, Doctor…" he called. "I don't think we're in Naples."

The Doctor joined him outside. He took in their surroundings. Then, he curiously stuck out his tongue, as if tasting the air. "Hm. You're right. My landing was a bit off. This isn't 1860, it's 1869. And it's not Naples, either. It's Cardiff."

"Oh…Cardiff," said Sam, a bit disappointed. He had been excited to see Italy, a place he'd never been to, even in present day. There wasn't much special about Cardiff.

"Ah, well," said the Doctor, shrugging. "It's still Christmas Eve." He grinned at Sam mischievously. "Let's go get into some trouble, shall we?"

-

"You know, when you said 'trouble', I didn't think you meant it literally," said Sam later to the Doctor, when he showed up at the funeral home where Sneed and his servant girl had brought him when they kidnapped him. Sam had been knocked out by Sneed and woken up to find two corpses coming to life before his eyes and stalking him like prey. Blimey, first the mannequins and now this!

"It must be a prank. Must be," said the other man the Doctor had shown up with. He looked familiar to Sam for some reason. He had curly brown hair, and a curly beard and mustache to match. He looked to be about in his late fifties, and he spoke with a sort of poetic diction. "We're under some mesmeric influence."

"No, we're not. The dead are walking," negated the Doctor. Then, he added to Sam, "Hi, by the way."

"Hi," said Sam. "Nice of you to drop in. Who's your friend?"

"Ah, yeah, this is Charles Dickens," said the Doctor nonchalantly.

"Oh. Your parents named you after the writer, then?" asked Sam.

The Doctor stared at Sam, waiting patiently.

"Oh…ohhh," said Sam, realization dawning on him. "Bloody hell…"

As it turned out, the dead weren't really rising. The Doctor explained that there was a rift in Cardiff, a rift in time and space, and that something was sneaking through and inhabiting the bodies. The Doctor wasn't sure what the entities were, but they seemed to be some sort of gas creatures. Charles-Sam still couldn't get over it. The Charles Dickens!-just wouldn't accept it.

Sam decided he needed to do something normal, so he helped the servant girl, Gwyneth, wash dishes. She claimed that he needn't bother, but Sam insisted. "Seems like that old piss works you to death. How much does he pay you, anyway?"

"Eight pounds a year, sir," she said, in her quiet Welsh accent.

Sam was shocked. "I know," nodded Gwyneth, studying Sam's face. "I would've been happy with six." Blimey, how things change in a century and a half.

"So…did you even go to school, or what?" asked Sam.

Gwyneth laughed a bit. "Of course I did. What do you think I am, some sort of urchin? I went every Sunday, nice and proper."

"Only once a week," marveled Sam. "Well, where I'm from, that'd be considered lucky."

"We did sums and everything," said Gwyneth. "To be honest…" She lowered her voice. "I hated every second."

Sam laughed. "Me too."

"Don't tell anyone," said Gwyneth, "but one week…I didn't go. I ran on the heath all on my own!"

Sam realized that the girl was probably opening up for the first time in a long time. Right shame. Poor girl doesn't have anyone to talk to but dead bodies and that old wanker Sneed. "I did plenty of that," he admitted. "My and my mate Jimmy. We'd go down to this guy's basement and drink beers."

Gwyneth blushed. "Well, I don't know about that, sir," she said, turning away.

"Ah, come on," laughed Sam. "Times haven't changed that much, have they? I mean, don't tell me you've never nipped a little at the cooking sherry."

"I don't think so, sir," she whispered, pretending to concentrate on drying a plate.

"Gwyneth, you can tell me," said Sam. "We're mates, aren't we?"

Gwyneth finally turned around, a sheepish grin on her face. "Well…there was this one time…"

"Ah, see, I knew it," said Sam, grinning.

Gwyneth got a dreamy look in her eye. "It was a warm summer night. A few of my school mates were gathered outside a pub. The butcher's boy managed to swipe some mead for all of us…I had a little too much, I think. So much that I…" She let out a giggle. "I kissed him!"

Sam laughed appreciatively. "Well, sometimes, you've gotta plunge in, headfirst."

"Like you did with the Doctor?" asked Gwyneth.

Sam was suddenly taken aback. "What?!"

"Isn't he your…" Gwyneth reddened.

"No, no! It's nothing like that, I swear," said Sam, also blushing furiously. "I've got a girl back home, love." It was just then that Sam realized that he had not thought of Annie for some time since taking off with the Doctor.

"Ah. I see," said Gwyneth, clearly embarrassed. "Please pardon me, sir."

"Ah, it's okay. Wouldn't be the first time someone's thought that I...but for the record, if anyone out there still cares, I'm not gay," he added.

Gwyneth looked confused. "You're unhappy?"

"Oh, no," said Sam. "See, where I come from, a 'gay' man is one that likes other men."

Gwyneth shook her head. "I swear. It is the strangest thing, sir. You've got the clothes and the breeding, but you talk like some sort of rabble-rouser."

Sam shrugged. "Maybe I am. Not necessarily a bad thing, though." He added gently, "you need more in your life than Mr. Sneed."

Gwyneth smiled sadly. "Oh, that's not fair," she defended. "He's not so bad, old Sneed. He was very kind to take me in. I lost my mum and dad to the flu when I was twelve."

"Oh, I'm so sorry," said Sam empathetically.

"Thank you, sir," said Gwyneth, her face mirroring Sam's sympathy. "But we must remember that someday, we'll be with the ones we love again. Maybe your friend's up there too, sir."

"Maybe," said Sam. "Um…wait, what friend?"

Gwyneth, realizing she'd said too much, quickly turned back to the washbasin and began drying another plate. "I don't know…just ignore me," said Gwyneth.

"Gwyneth?" asked Sam, now very worried. "What do you know?"

Gwyneth shook her head. "Mr. Sneed says I talk too much. I'm all alone down here. I bet you've got tons of servants where you're from, eh?"

"No," said Sam. "No servants in the Powell Estates."

"Mm," mused Gwyneth. "And you've come such a long way."

Sam's blood ran cold. "What…what makes you say that?"

Gwyneth tilted her head. "You're from London…no. There's another place in your head. A field on fire. Red grass and orange sky, and two sunsets. And there's…a school? Where boys and girls go to learn…far beyond human capacity. Yes. It's unearthly, that place. And the place has magic coaches that fly, or something of the like…and you flown in one. Flown so far…you've seen the darkness. The big, bad wolf!" She stopped. "I'm sorry. I'm sorry, sir."

"No, it's…it's fine," said Sam, feeling sick.

"I can't help it," whispered Gwyneth fearfully. "Ever since I was a little girl, my mum said I had the sight. She told me to hide it!"

"But it's getting stronger," said a voice that made them both jump. The Doctor was standing there, hands in the pockets of his leather jacket. "More powerful, is that right?"

Gwyneth swallowed. "All the time, sir," she whispered. "Every night…voices in my head."

"You grew up on top of the rift," said the Doctor. "You're part of it. You're the key."

"I've tried to make sense of it, sir," said Gwyneth. "Consulted with spiritualists, table rappers, all sorts."

"Well, that should help," said the Doctor. "You can show us what to do."

"What to do where, sir?" asked Gwyneth.

The Doctor smiled. "We're going to have a séance."

-

The "ghosts", or rather, the Gelth, turned out to be the straggling last members of a species nearly wiped out by the Doctor's Time War. They asked to be let through the rift to inhabit the bodies of dead people.

"We can't," protested Sam.

"Why not?" said the Doctor, shrugging callously. "It's like recycling."

"But it's just…wrong, mate!" cried Sam in frustration. "Those bodies used to be people, we need to respect that!"

"Do you carry a donor card?" asked the Doctor.

Sam sputtered. "That's…completely irrelevant!"

The Doctor shrugged. "Get used to it, or go home."

Sam exhaled, trying hand not to punch the Doctor in the mouth. "Look, Doctor," he said, lowering his voice. "I know what this is about. You feel…guilty. You think that since your people are gone, you have to save these Gelth, but the fact is-"

"The fact is, this conversation is over." The Doctor stomped out of the room, leaving Sam hanging.

Sam beseeched Gwyneth not to do it, that she could be in danger, but Gwyneth proclaimed that she was meant to do this. "My angels," she said, smiling widely, showing a gap between her two front teeth. "I can help them live."

-

The Doctor should have listened to Sam.

The Gelth had lied. They were not dying out, and they did not want to take the corpses. They intend on taking all the bodies on Earth, dead or alive.

The Gelth cornered Sam and the Doctor, in a small alley behind a metal gate that wouldn't hold for long.

"I can't die, can I?" asked Sam, panicking. "I haven't even been born yet!"

"Time isn't a straight line," said the Doctor desperately. "It can twist into any shape. You can be born in the twentieth century and die in the nineteenth and it's all my fault. I brought you here."

"Hey," said Sam. "It's not your fault, Doctor. I wanted to come."

"What about me?" fretted the Doctor. "I saw the fall of Troy, World War V! I pushed boxes at the Boston Tea Party! And now, I'm going to die in a dungeon…in Cardiff!"

"Blimey…turned into a zombie. Not my first choice for death," commented Sam.

"You know, you have got a sick sense of humor sometimes, you know that?" said the Doctor. "Reminds me of this bloke I used to know."

"Well…we'll go down fighting, yeah?" said Sam.

"Yeah," said the Doctor.

"Together?"

"Yeah."

Sam felt the Doctor take his hand. The Doctor smiled, trying to hide his terror. "I'm so glad I met you," said the Doctor.

Sam smiled, also trying to be brave. "Me too."

-

But they didn't die that day. Charles Dickens ended up saving them. But it was Gwyneth, poor Gwyneth, who was the real hero. She gave her life to rid their world of the Gelth.

"She saved the world," said Sam. "A servant girl. And no one will ever know."

Charles left them in an uncharacteristically good mood. He said he was going home to spend Christmas with his family. "This morning, I thought I knew everything in the world!" he said gleefully. "Now I know I've just started. All these huge and wonderful notions, Doctor. I'm inspired. I must write about them."

"Good luck with it, and nice to meet you," said the Doctor. "Fantastic."

"Bye, and thanks," said Sam, warmly shaking the writer's hand.

"Oh, thank you, but…I don't understand," Charles said. "In what way is this goodbye? Where are you going?"

"In the 'shed'," said the Doctor, unlocking the TARDIS.

"Oh my soul," said the writer, shaking his head. "Doctor, it's one riddle after another with you. But after all these revelations, there's one mystery you still haven't explained. Answer me this: who are you?"

The Doctor hesitated before answering. He smiled sadly and said, "Just a friend, passing through."

"But you have such knowledge of future times. I don't wish to impose on you, but I must ask you. My books. Doctor…do they last?"

The Doctor grinned widely. "Oh, yes."

"For how long?"

"Forever," said the Doctor.

Charles smiled at this, looking like he might just cry.

"Right…shed," said the Doctor. "Come on, Sam."

"I-in the box?" asked the writer, looking the two men queerly. "Both of you?"

"Down, boy," laughed the Doctor. "See ya!"

Charles Dickens watched as the pair stepped inside the tiny blue box and shut the doors behind them. He looked with fervent amazement as the box began to fade in and out of existence, making a great wheezing noise as it disappeared from the street.

Charles found himself laughing as he turned and walked home. "Merry Christmas, sir!" said a man passing him in the street.

"Merry Christmas," the writer said merrily. "God bless us. Everyone!"

Chapter Text

"So, where to next?" asked the Doctor, as Sam descended the stairs of the TARDIS, redressed in his normal wardrobe.

"Er…" Sam had actually been thinking about Annie ever since Gwyneth reminded him of her. "I was thinking we could stop at home."

"Home," repeated the Doctor, sounding confused.

"You know…Powell Estates, 2005?"

"Oh, yeah, of course!" The Doctor immediately turned to the console and began fiddling with the controls, not meeting Sam's eye. "Home. Well…I suppose it was only a matter of time anyway. Mind you, I did think it'd be a little while until…but I suppose if you want to go, that's your prerogative. So yeah…" The TARDIS materialized in the real world outside. "I guess this is it then. Home."

With a wistful smile, he shook Sam's hand firmly and said, "Had a fantastic time with you, Sam. Really fantastic. Honestly."

"Er…Doctor? I only meant for a visit."

The Doctor slowly dropped Sam's hand. "Oh. Yeah, I knew that."

Sam rolled his eyes. "Very pretty speech. Are you going to sing me a round of Whitney Houston as well?"

"Oi, shut it," said the Doctor, hiding his pink face as he walked out of the TARDIS. Sam followed, still chuckling.

"So…how long have I been gone?" he asked as he surveyed the familiar street. It felt like home, even with its litter and its pigeon dung and its graffiti all over the brick walls. He read the various tags on the walls subconsciously, realizing he'd never really read them before. Chad waz here. Go Bulldogs. Bad Wolf. Red Hawks rule. And others.

"About twelve hours," said the Doctor, leaning up against the doors of the TARDIS.

The two men laughed. It was insane. Sam felt like he'd been gone at least a week. And yet, it had all passed by so quickly. Life in the TARDIS, with the Doctor, was never a dull moment. "Right," said Sam. "Well, I just want to stop by my apartment, pick up a few things, see if Annie made it home alright, and then, you and me can be off before you can say 'Bob's your uncle'."

"I've never had a reason to say that," remarked the Doctor. "But I'll take your word for it. What are you going to tell your girlfriend?"

"Blimey, hadn't thought of that," said Sam, clapping a hand to his forehead. "Well, I'll think of something. Say, maybe she'll want to come with us-"

"No," said the Doctor quickly.

"What? Why not?" asked Sam.

"Because I said so," said the Doctor. "I don't want you two making my ship a domestic love nest."

"Listen, mate, you'd love Annie. She's brilliant, she's funny, she's tough…rather a lot like you, actually."

"Well, I'll think about it," said the Doctor, in a tone that clearly negated this statement. As far as it concerned the Doctor, he wasn't bringing some bird on board. Don't get the Doctor wrong, he'd had chicks on his ship before, obviously. Some of them, like Tegan, Romana, Ace, and Sarah Jane had been some of his best mates. But the Doctor already had a handful with Sam. He didn't need another damsel in distress.

"Well, see you later," said Sam, shaking the Doctor from his train of thought. He began to walk away, but stopped. "Er…you're not going to…fly away when I leave, are you?"

The Doctor walked over to Sam. He stared into Sam's green eyes with own steely blue ones and said, "Why do you think I'd leave you?"

Because you've done it before.

"I…dunno," said Sam uncomfortably, stuffing his hands in his pockets.

"Tell you what," said the Doctor, reaching into his own pocket and producing a strange looking metal disc on a chain and pressing it into Sam's hand. "TARDIS key," he said. "About time you had one."

Sam stared at the foreign key intently. "Thanks," he finally said. "Well…see you later." He turned around and headed for the flat complex, hiding his warm cheeks.

Sam climbed the stairs (Weird, when had the elevator broken?) up to his apartment and dug his key out of his pocket. He slipped it into the keyhole, but it wouldn't turn. "What the hell?" he muttered, jiggling the key.

Suddenly, the door opened from the inside. A short man with thinning hair, a sweater vest, and thick black glasses appeared. "Excuse me, young man, what do you think you're doing?" he asked.

Sam gaped at the man. "Who the hell are you? And how did you get in my apartment?"

"Your apartment? I've lived here for nine months."

Sam stared in disbelief. He looked at the number on the door, but yes, he did have the right door. "There must be some mistake," he stammered. "Because I've lived here for three years."

"You must be mistaken. Good day," said the bald man, quickly shutting the door in Sam's face.

"Wait!" Sam knocked on the door, but all he heard was the double bolt lock from the inside.

"What the hell?" he said. He pounded on the door. "Look, mate, I don't know what you're playing at, but this is my flat, and you are gonna let me in right now! I'll break down this door if I have to!"

The bald man called the cops.

 

-

 

"Ouch, ouch, oi, watch it!" he grumbled as the constable pushed him roughly into the station.

"Send for the DI," said the constable. "We got a live one here."

"That guy broke into my apartment!" shouted Sam. "He changed the locks! I-"

"Sam?"

Sam turned around. There stood a pretty woman with long, reddish brown hair and hazel eyes, in a DI's uniform. "Annie!" he exclaimed. "Explain it to these guys. Some man-" But he was cut off as Annie rushed into his arms and pulled him into a bone-crushing embrace…then she slapped him.

"Where the hell have you been?!" she shouted, tears brimming up in her eyes.

"Well, I…" Sam stammered, rubbing his smarting cheek. This was what he hadn't been prepared for. "Look, I-I'm sorry I didn't call you back last night, but-"

"Last night? Last night?!" she exclaimed, absolutely livid.

"Yeah, you see-" Then he caught sight of something behind her on the wall.

It was a missing person's poster, with his face on it. And right next to it, a calendar, set to March…2006.

"What?"

"Sam," whispered Annie, clearly trying to control her anger. "You've been missing a whole year."

 

-

 

Annie angrily explained that she knew Sam. She stuffed him into her car and they sped away.

"A whole year," said Sam as Annie drove in heated silence. "That's-no. The Doctor said that we-"

"I get sucked into a garbage can!" shouted Annie. "And then I wake up in some underground boiler room. Then you show up out of nowhere with this 'Doctor' person and tell me to go home. The next thing I know, people are dying in the streets. Attacked by shop store dummies coming to life! And the only word I hear from you is, 'I'll call you tomorrow and explain everything'. Except you never did! I assumed you'd been killed by one of those…things! But no! Apparently, you and your new boyfriend have been gallivanting off to…God knows where! Boy, am I a fool!"

"He's not my boyfriend!" exclaimed Sam. "Why does everyone think that?"

"I cannot believe you!" screeched Annie. "I had dozens of officers looking for you, for nearly three months! I thought you were dead, and where were you?"

"Traveling," answered Sam meekly.

"What the hell does that mean, 'traveling'0? That's not an answer!"

"I'm sorry, Ann, but that's what I was doing."

"And you left all your things behind?! Clothes, toothbrush, passport?! In fact, I'm pretty sure those are the same clothes you were wearing that day! By the way, I kept all your stuff when they moved that Harris bloke into your apartment…because you hadn't paid your rent in three months!"

"Annie, just take me back to the Estates, please. The Doctor's there, and we can explain everything, I promise!"

"Why should I believe you?!" questioned Annie.

"Because…I don't know." Sam crossed his arms and looked out the window.

After a moment, Annie turned the car around and headed for the Estates.

 

-

 

"First, we end up in 1869, instead of 1860. But I didn't care about that. What I do care about is missing an entire year of my life!" Sam exclaimed, when he found the Doctor standing right where he'd left him, next to the TARDIS.

"What?" asked the Doctor confusedly.

"It hasn't been twelve hours, it's been twelve months," said Sam. "I thought you knew how to fly that thing!"

The Doctor looked peeved. "I do!...Sometimes, I just…get off by a bit."

"Twelve months?!" said Sam incredulously. "My girlfriend is ready to flay us both within an inch of our lives."

"Speak of the devil," commented the Doctor as Annie, no, Detective Inspector Cartwright marched up to the two.

"Ah. Anna. Good to see you again," said the Doctor, smiling.

"My name is Annie," she said, gritting her teeth.

"No, it's Anna."

"I think I know my own name!"

"You think you know your own name?" The Doctor laughed.

"Doctor!" scolded Sam.

Annie looked impatient. "Have you two got your lie in order?"

"Annie, I haven't told you a single lie yet," protested Sam.

"I'm not speaking to you at the moment," she said coldly. She glared at the Doctor. "You were the last person seen with Sam Tyler. Therefore, I am holding you personally responsible for his whereabouts between March 3rd, 2005, and March 4th, 2006." She crossed her arms. "You better have a pretty damn good alibi."

"Well, you see," said the Doctor. "I employed Sam here as my companion."

"'Companion'? Was this a sexual relationship?"

"No!" shouted Sam and the Doctor simultaneously.

"Fine. Where did you and your 'companion' go for a year?" questioned Annie.

"I told you, Ann. We were…traveling," said Sam meekly.

"Traveling," repeated Annie disgustedly at the Doctor, even though it was Sam that had spoken. "You know what? I'm putting you under arrest for kidnapping, at least until I get some answers!" In one smooth movement, Annie whipped out her hand cuffs, turned the Doctor around and shoved him up against the TARDIS. "Come on," she said, chaining the Doctor's hands. "I'm putting you in here until I can get some back up!"

She opened the doors and pushed the Doctor roughly inside. Then, she saw in the inside. She stood there, mouth agape. "Wha…"

"Come on, Annie," said Sam, gently coaxing her inside. "We have a lot to talk about."

 

-

 

"I just…I don't believe it," said Annie later, in complete shock. She was sitting on the jump seat in the console room, while the Doctor and Sam told her about their past few days together. "And this…this box…it travels in time?"

"And space," said the Doctor. "Would you mind taking these off now?"

"Oh, sorry," said Annie numbly, unlocking the handcuffs.

"Thanks," he said, rubbing his wrists.

"And it's only been a few days?" she asked in amazement.

"Yes," said Sam. "Freaky, eh?"

"This is impossible," she said, shaking her head. She looked up at Sam, wide-eyed. "Did you know they pronounced you dead? You're dead, according to the records. They have a certificate and everything."

"Annie, look," said Sam, taking her hands. "I'm really, really sorry. I was supposed to come back after twelve hours. But the Doctor mucked up."

"Hey!" said the Doctor indignantly.

"But what-" Annie was cut off as there was a tremendous noise outside.

"What the hell was that?" said Sam.

"Dunno," said the Doctor. "Let's go find out."

 

-

 

Aliens. In London.

A spaceship had crash landed in the Thames River. But even that was simply an Earth pig stolen from some farm and stuffed into a space craft. The real threat lie in Downing Street, where members of the Slitheen family, from the planet Raxacoricofallapatorius (try saying that five times fast) had infiltrated the British government. The Doctor and Sam, along with the help of Annie and Harriet Jones, an MP for Flydale North, managed to stop the aliens from destroying the planet.

Sam watched on TV as Harriet Jones, who would later be elected Prime Minister, say to the press, "Mankind stands tall, proud and undefeated. God bless the human race."

"It's just…I can't believe it, Sammy." Annie was watching beside him. They were sitting on the couch in Annie's house. "We saved the world. You and me."

"And the Doctor," added Sam.

"Yes," added Annie begrudgingly. "And the Doctor."

"Not so bad now, is he?" asked Sam.

She sighed. "No, but…you could've called me."

"I know. I'm sorry," he said, kissing her forehead.

"Just three days?" she asked.

"Yeah."

"Well…I suppose you're forgiven," she said, smiling sadly at him. "Though I still don't trust that Doctor."

"Someone say my name?" said the Doctor, coming in.

"Yes," said Annie, standing up. "And I want to talk to you. Tell me something, Doctor: is Sam safe with you?"

"Annie-"

"No, I mean it," she said. "Are you safe, Doctor? Because it seems all fun and smart, but…Sam could've died out there."

The Doctor looked at her gravely. "Sam was right about you. You're a smart girl. And you're right, Sam is in danger, traveling with me. But I swear…I would die before I'd let someone hurt him."

Annie sighed and nodded, knowing the Doctor was telling the truth. She still worried…but she knew there wasn't really anything she could do.

"Course," said the Doctor. "You could always come with us. It might help. Having a mother hen on board." Sam noted that the Doctor had changed his tone. There still seemed to be some tension between the two, but maybe they could friends after all.

Annie laughed and shook her head. "I'm sorry, but…no. I can't. It's too much."

"Right," said the Doctor, nodding. "I understand."

"Ann," said Sam, taking her hand. "Are you sure?"

"Yeah," she said, with a pained smile. "Wouldn't want to intrude on your sausage fest anyway." She laughed.

"Okay," said Sam. "If you're absolutely sure."

She nodded her head.

"Listen, Doctor," Sam said. "I'm going to go pack a bag, alright? Annie had a point, I'm probably going to need my toothbrush where we're going."

They all laughed. "Sure," said the Doctor.

Sam went to the room where Annie was keeping all his stuff. He packed some things into a backpack: clothes, toiletries, pictures, an old pocket watch, and a couple of good books. "Ready," he said to himself.

Annie and the Doctor were watching a kid scrub the words "Bad Wolf" off the side of the blue box. "Graffiti that again and you'll catch it," threatened the Doctor as the kid ran off. "Now, ready?" he addressed Sam.

"Absolutely." Sam kissed Annie goodbye, and he and the Doctor were off on another adventure.

Chapter Text

The encounter with the Dalek showed Sam a completely different Doctor.

Sam had been kind of stunned when the Doctor simply stood there and let Cassandra die. But this time…the Doctor only had pure white hot burning hatred for the metal creature.

The whole story came out. The Dalek, like the Doctor, was the last survivor of its race. The only Dalek left after the Great Time War. And the Doctor wasn't just the sole remnant of the occurrence; he was the source. The Doctor had destroyed everyone, everything in that war. He was a murderer. No wonder Sam felt this inane sense of shame emanating from the Doctor. He wasn't just alone. He was guilty.

But the Doctor was determined not to let his people have died in vain. He had to destroy this last Dalek, the last reminder of his treachery.

"Get out of the way," said the Doctor, aiming an enormous bazooka at Sam and the Dalek. "Sam, get out of the way, now!"

"No," said Sam. "Because I won't let you do this!"

"The thing killed hundreds of people," argued the Doctor.

Sam studied him coolly. "It's not the one pointing the gun at me."

The Doctor swallowed. "I've got to do this. I've got to end it. The Daleks destroyed my home, my people. I've got nothing left!"

"But look at it," protested Sam, looking back at the Dalek. He had never seen such an ugly creature, save for the Slitheen, maybe, but there was something sad and delicate about the way it blinked its singular eye in the bright light and gently wagged its little tentacle in the warmth. "The sunlight. That's all it wants. It could have killed me, but it didn't. It could've killed Van Statten, but it didn't. Don't you see, Doctor? It's changed! Isn't…shouldn't everything deserve forgiveness?"

It was at that moment that Sam realized how much that hit home.

The Doctor seemed to think so, too, reflecting on his own crime. "Sam, don't you see? If I destroy it-"

"If you destroy it, than how are you any better?!" demanded Sam. "You've done so much unbelievable good-enough to outweigh the bad ten times over… You're better than this. What the hell are you changing into?"

The Doctor could only stare, shock and shame painted on his face.

 

-

 

In the end, the Dalek, unable to bare what Sam had turned it into, killed itself.

The Doctor, still tender after the experience, took Sam and the other boy, Adam, in his blue box and flew away.

"Doctor?" said Sam, after Adam had run off to explore the rest of the TARDIS ("It's bigger on the inside!"). "Listen. I'm feeling a bit…tired. Is there a place out there where it's…peaceful?"

The Doctor looked up from his console. He offered a small smile. "I think I know of one, yeah."

The TARDIS landed in a grassy meadow, punctuated with the occasional small tree, and overhead, there was a pale blue sky.

Sam stepped outside and immediately felt a wave of calm wash over him. He inhaled, and the air smelled sweet, faintly floral. He closed his eyes and listened to the almost silence; the only noise about was the slight whisper of the breeze.

He shrugged off his jacket and lay down in the tall soft grass, on his back, letting the warm sunlight caress his face. "What is this place?" he murmured, utterly relaxed.

"It's called The Eye of Orion," said an equally placated voice, and Sam heard the grass rustle beside him as the Doctor lay down as well. "It's the most tranquil place in the universe. It is literally impossible to be unhappy or stressed here, because of the levels of positive ions."

Sam opened his eyes and noted that the Doctor too had shed his leather jacket, and noticed how the dark blue jumper he'd been wearing underneath offset his grey-blue eyes, making them seem lighter, younger, less burdened. Or maybe it was just the atmosphere here.

"So technically," said Sam, rolling over and leaning on his elbow. "We're high right now?"

The Doctor grinned at him. "Yeah," he chuckled, putting his hands behind his head and lacing his fingers together.

Sam closed his eyes and deeply breathed in the sweet air. "Blimey…I definitely could become a junkie to this place." The positive ions were definitely working their magic on him; the aching headache the encounter with the Dalek had given was ebbing away, until the sequence of four knocks was merely a faint tapping in the back of his mind. It was the most peace Sam had felt in a while.

The two remained like that for a while, simply lying there in quiet, absorbing the sunlight and the breeze and the serenity. Sam reckoned he dozed off at some point…

"Koschei?" Theta came in to find his friend lying in a fetal position on his bed, clutching at his head, eyes clinched shut.

"So loud," whispered Koschei, tears streaming down his cheeks. "They're so loud."

"Here," said Theta, climbing onto Koschei's bed. He took the trembling boy into his arms and held him, stroking his hair, kissing his forehead, telling him telepathically that he was here, that everything would be alright. Koschei sobbed and hiccupped and trembled and finally fell into a peaceful sleep in his arms, snuggled into Theta's chest. Theta held Koschei tightly all night, as to scare away any bad dreams.

I love you, Theta, Koschei dreamed.

And I love you, Theta replied, dropping another kiss on the top of Koschei's head. My Koschei, I love you.

Theta eventually feel asleep as well, and foreheads pressed together, the two boys shared their dreams…

Sam was awoken by the Doctor. "Come on," he said, gently shaking Sam by the shoulder. "Your boyfriend says he's bored. He wants to go somewhere exciting."

Sam rolled his eyes. "Okay, look, he's not my boyfriend. I don't have a boyfriend, alright? For the last time, I am not interested in men!"

"Whatever," said the Doctor. "Come on then."

Sam stood up, brushed himself off, and followed the Doctor back to the TARDIS.

Chapter Text

Fantastic. As soon as I rid myself of one, he wanders off and picks up another stray! The Doctor grumbled inwardly, trying not to watch as Sam and Jack chatted. The captain, the Doctor could see, was shamelessly flirting with Sam, who was quite uncomfortable.

Funny, the Doctor couldn't help joke to himself. For a guy who claims so vehemently to be hetero, he sure does attract a lot of blokes. And I thought I was a…how did Sam put it? A "space pimp"?

But the Doctor had to back up a bit. He had left Adam back in his own flat back home after his little trick with the cell phone and the white noise on Satellite Five.

"I only take the best," he'd said fiercely. "I've got Sam."

Then he stormed back inside his TARDIS and flew away, only to stumble across a bright mauve capsule. Mauve, he explained to Sam, was the universal color for emergency. So, he locked onto the capsule's flight pattern, and wound up somewhere/when in London.

"What's the plan to locate this thing, then?" asked Sam, as they strolled through a back alley the TARDIS had turned up in. It was nighttime, and the city was unusually serene. "Gonna…scan for alien tech or something?"

"No, I'm gonna ask someone," he said, flashing Sam his psychic paper.

Sam looked at it. "Might want to get that fixed, mate. It's still not working."

The Doctor gaped at him quizzically. "Really? It's blank?" He looked at it himself, but identification papers for a "Dr. John Smith, Ministry of Asteroids" were present. Curiouser and curiouser.

In all honesty, matters had grown even stranger than usual (if possible) ever since the Doctor plucked up his latest companion. Not only did Sam seem telepathically endowed, as the encounter with the Nestene had proved, but the fact that the psychic paper didn't work on him showed that Sam might be a genius as well. Not surprising. The Doctor very rarely employed dim individuals. However, Sam, smart as he was, didn't necessarily show that type of prowess up front. It was almost as if Sam's mind was a precious, powerful jewel, concealed under layers of human-y rock and stone.

Sometimes, the Doctor caught Sam nursing his temples, or muttering to himself. The Doctor would inquire if he was alright, to which Sam always replied, "Yeah. Swell." Then the Doctor would just let the matter drop.

Outside of Sam, other things were odd too. For instance, the TARDIS had been acting very temperamental lately, especially when Sam touched the console. He failed to understand why. The old girl had never particularly shown a preference to or bias toward any of his traveling companions before. The Doctor prided himself on possessing a well-behaved, hospitable TARDIS. Perhaps she was still getting use to having others on board again; it had been several centuries, after all.

Not to mention…Bad Wolf.

The two, simple, non-threatening words had been stalking the Doctor ever since Platform One. He'd overheard the Moxx of Balhoon utter this simple phrase in passing, but had brushed it off. It simply had been irrelevant prattle at the time. But then in 1869's Cardiff, the Doctor had walked in on Sam and the servant girl, Gwyneth, in the kitchen, and there again were those two words. He didn't know what they'd been discussing beforehand, but the both of them had seemed very frightened.

Returning Sam home to London, he'd discovered several tags in the very alley he'd landed in sporting the phrase. Some little imp had even had the gall to brand, well, spray paint the damn words onto the exterior of his TARDIS. If that wasn't the universe trying to get the Doctor's attention, he didn't know what was.

And there were more. Henry Van Statten's helicopter, christened "Bad Wolf One". And on Satellite 5, the Bad Wolf TV channel featuring some story on the Face of Boe being pregnant (rubbish, most probably). Wherever the Doctor went, two words followed. Bad Wolf.

And the Doctor had some sinister feeling that they had to do with Sam.

The Doctor had meant it when he'd said he was glad he'd met the lad; he was. The guilt of the Time War had lay heavily on his mind and hearts before he'd run across this little human. He still felt the ache sometimes, when he was by himself in the console room while Sam was sleeping. But the presence of this brilliant, curious, daring, funny bloke had somehow dulled the pain, the hollow loneliness. He could forget for a while. He could even start to forgive himself, for a moment.

But then he'd remember.

Of course, he'd never say any of this to Sam. The man (not to mention everyone else in the universe) was so convinced that the Doctor was out to shag him. Honestly, it wasn't as if the Doctor had never had platonic friends. Ian and Barbara, Zoe, Liz, little Jo Grant, the Brigadier, Sarah Jane (even though she'd fancied him), Adric and Tegan and Nyssa, Peri (although, she'd seemed sort of interested in his fifth incarnation-who wasn't?-but then he'd changed, and she was immediately turned off for some reason…), Ace…just to name a few.

This Captain Jack Harkness, on the other hand, seemed to be quite the opposite.

Sam had wandered off while the Doctor was inspecting the area (They'd somehow managed to land in 1941, smack dab in the middle of the London Blitz. Good grief!), and then got himself stranded by dangling from the rope of a barrage balloon soaring two hundred feet over London during a bloody German air raid! Good thing Prince Charming had been there to rescue Sam as if he were some princess trapped in a tall tower, all slick haired and coy winks and flashing those pearly whites around like the crown jewels. The Captain was almost too beautiful to be real.

And he was. As it turned out, the swashbuckling Captain Jack was the cause of their advent in this war-torn London, not to mention the reason behind the "plague", the transformation of the humans into these gas mask creatures. And all just to make a quick buck. A lousy con man. That's all he was.

Plus, he had the gall to make fun of the Doctor's sonic screwdriver! The Doctor's pride was still a bit wounded over that one.

And then, just when it seemed that the three men were trapped, stuck inside the Albion Hospital, Jack, with his sneaky little vortex manipulator, teleported out of there when Sam and the Doctor weren't looking.

"Oh great!" said Sam, looking disgusted. The Doctor thanked his lucky stars he hadn't picked up some mushy, doe-eyed bird who would fawn all over the charming rogue like some teenager. "He's gone!" continued Sam, pacing. "Why do all the smart guys do that?!"

The Doctor frowned. "I'm making an effort not to be insulted." Okay. So apparently, Harkness had had some kind of effect on Sam.

"Oi, don't even, you've done it too!"

"Have not!" argued the Doctor childishly.

"Oh yeah?" Sam crossed his arms. "Three words, mate: Hunt's Department Store!"

"Oh…well okay, there was that," admitted the Doctor sheepishly.

Sam sighed and turned away. "We need him."

The Doctor let slip a derisive scoff. "Like hell we do. Have you forgotten that he's the one who got us into this mess?"

"Yeah, but he's got a weapon," Sam pointed out.

"I don't need weapons."

"Sometimes weapons are a necessary evil," said Sam. Then his expression turned sour, like he remembering something bad. He clenched his eyes shut and rubbed the sides of his head.

"You alright?" asked the Doctor.

"Yeah," grumbled Sam, slightly shaking his head. "Swell."

There it was again.

Suddenly, an old dusty radio sitting on a bookshelf in the corner crackled to life. For a moment, the Doctor feared it was the boy again. The empty child. But then, an irritatingly smooth voice came on over the speaker. "Sam? Doctor? Can you hear me? I'm back on my ship."

The Doctor jumped up and went over to inspect the radio as Jack continued. "Used the emergency teleport. Sorry I couldn't take you. It's security-keyed to my molecular structure."

Convenient, mused the Doctor.

"I'm working on it," said Jack. "Hang in there."

"How are you speaking to us?" asked the Doctor, fiddling with the broken wires, which weren't attached to anything.

"Om-Com," explained Jack simply. "I can call anything with a speaker grill."

"Now there's a coincidence," said the Doctor.

"What is?"

"The child can Om-Com too," replied the Doctor.

"He can?" asked Sam.

"Anything with a speaker grill," said the Doctor, nodding. "Including the TARDIS phone."

"Wait, you mean the child can phone us?"

"And I can hear you," called a little voice on the radio that was definitely not Jack's. "Coming to find you. Coming to find you."

"Doctor, can you hear that?" crackled Jack's voice.

"Loud and clear," said the Doctor, hiding his nervousness. In all his nine hundred years, he'd never encountered anything like these zombie things. And usually, he was fascinated by new things. But not in this case.

"I'll try to block out the signal," said Jack, then he added a little sheepishly, "It's the least I could do."

Damn right, thought the Doctor.

"Coming to find you, mummy…"

"Remember this one, Sam?" A song began to play on the radio from Jack's ship: "Moonlight Serenade", by Glenn Miller. Not exactly the kind of tunes a 51st century kind of guy listened to a regular basis, the Doctor mused. Or was it actually possible that this Captain Jack actually had some culture?

The Doctor looked at Sam questioningly, who was looking down at his feet. "We were…just listening to it on his ship," he muttered. The Doctor heard the Captain chuckle softly over the radio and decided not to ask any further. He really didn't want to know.

The Doctor set himself to scanning the dimensions of the room with his (not stupid) sonic screwdriver, as Sam lounged in a wheelchair, absentmindedly wheeling himself back and forth as the song played on. He'd asked if he could help, to which the Doctor had gruffly replied no. Then he'd suggested, in a slightly less tight voice, that Sam just keep out of the way.

Why did the Captain have this effect on the Doctor? Why did the thought of him and Sam, together on the con man's ship, "listening" to Glenn Miller and doing God knows what else, gnaw at his insides like he'd swallowed a live rat?

Because he's a piece of scum. He's a piece of scum and Sam's impressed by him. No. Sam has nothing to do with it. You just don't like Jack because he's scum, that's all. You're not… that . That would be silly. Because that would imply that you had… feelings for Sam. Which you don't. You most certainly do not have feelings for Sam. He made it clear from day one: platonic. And you firmly agreed. Right? Right.

"What are you doing?" Sam's voice surprised the Doctor.

"Er…trying to set up a resonation pattern in the concrete, loosen the bars," answered the Doctor, recovering quickly.

"You don't think he's coming back, do you?" asked Sam.

The Doctor held back a snort. "Wouldn't bet my life."

"Look…the guy just…made a mistake. That's all. It's not like you've never made a mistake."

"Why do you trust him?" asked the Doctor suddenly. He hadn't meant to ask the question, but for some reason, he had to know.

"Saved my life," answered Sam. "Isn't that good enough?"

The Doctor let out an indifferent psh of air and continued scanning the window.

Sam sighed heavily and said, "Alright, look…I trust him because…he's like you."

A small, nasty little part of the Doctor's brain said, And the insults keep rolling in. But the other 93 percent made the Doctor pause and turn to look at Sam, a bemused expression on his face.

Sam cleared his throat. "Except…you know…with drinking and dancing."

"Oh, so that's what you two were doing?" said the Doctor, raising his fantastic eyebrows that were usually reserved for scowling. An invisible smirk tugged at the corner of his lips.

"Yeah, yeah, it's not like that," grumbled Sam, waving his hand dismissively and trying hard not to blush. "The guy had a couple beers on board, and then he turned on the radio and asked me to dance. I said I didn't know how." Sam gave the wall to his right a put-upon grimace. "So…he was just teaching me! You know I'm-"

"Straight, I've heard," said the Doctor, repressing an eye roll. Honestly, he really didn't care. Nine hundred years of time and space, and you've pretty much seen everything. Done everything, too. He was from a planet where gender was subjective, for Christ's sake. These humans and their labels.

Hm. Maybe he and this Jack Harkness were alike…a little.

"So…what did he teach you?" said the Doctor, turning back to his scanning.

"Waltz, mostly," said Sam. "It was simple enough."

"Yeah, I know the waltz," said the Doctor. He heard a cough that sounded suspiciously like it was covering a laugh. "Something funny?"

"You dance?" asked Sam incredulously. "Lemme guess…the Time Warp, right?"

I practically invented the Time Warp. "Yes, I can dance," he said irritably.

"Doesn't the universe implode or something if the Doctor dances?" said Sam, almost genuinely laughing at him now.

Hmph. Lot you know. I'll have you know, I taught some of my "partners" their best tricks. "Well, I've got the moves, but I wouldn't want to boast," said the Doctor, biting back a haughty smirk.

The Doctor heard the wheelchair creak as Sam got up from it. He listened to Sam's footsteps as he walked over to the radio and turned up the dial, and the slow music became louder. "Alright," said Sam, and the Doctor was surprised at how close Sam's voice seemed, as if the man was standing right behind him. "Impress me."

"Huh?" The Doctor turned around, slightly taken aback.

Sam shrugged, trying to look impassive. He casually held out a hand. "You said you got the moves. So show me your moves." He grinned a little, raising an eyebrow playfully.

"Sam, I'm…I'm trying to resonate concrete," said the Doctor, suddenly feeling a little uncomfortable.

"Jack'll get us, come on," prodded Sam. "The world doesn't end 'cause the Doctor dances.

Okay. Definitely uncomfortable now. The Doctor, after putting his sonic screwdriver back inside his jacket, covertly wiped his slightly sweaty palms on his jeans and swallowed. Were his heart rates accelerated?

Calm down. It's nothing. Just a lark. Nothing to sweat.

He put on a fake sense of bravado as he swaggered down off the ledge. He took Sam's outstretched hand, then, surprising the both of them, pulled Sam in close. He heard Sam gulp slightly.

The Doctor smiled one of those cheekily, sarcastic smiles that had so become a part of this incarnation's persona, and they started to sway to the music.

"Hm," said Sam, slightly bobbing his head side to side bemusedly. "Not bad…though I will admit, Captain Jack could probably teach you a thing or two."

"What, like this?" On an impulse, the Doctor suddenly dipped the man, tango style, and held him there. "And he's 'Captain Jack' now, is he?"

"Well…" Sam's breath was slightly hitched as the Doctor hung over him, still clutching him firmly. "His name's Jack. He's a captain. It's very…Pirates Of The Caribbean, isn't it?"

"Yes, but he's not really a captain, is he, Sam?" said the Doctor, pulling Sam upright again and heard him give a faint sigh of relief.

"Maybe you're just jealous," muttered Sam.

"Of what? His 'captaincy'? I don't mean to sound arrogant-"

"You never do."

"-but I personally think 'Doctor' sounds more impressive than 'Captain'. More original. More mysterious."

"It's definitely unusual, I'll give you that," smirked Sam. That earned him an impromptu spin around. Sam, unprepared for it, stumbled into the Doctor, hands splayed on the man's chest.

Sam slowly looked up at the Doctor, cheeks red as roses. Their faces were extremely close.

"Er…sorry," breathed Sam, pulling back quickly.

"Quite alright," said the Doctor, releasing Sam's hands completely. This dance was over.

"You know," said a voice that made them both jump. The Doctor looked up to realize that they were no longer standing in the hospital. "Most people notice when they've been teleported," commented Jack, sticking his handsome head out from behind the pilot's chair in the front of the ship. He smirked at them. "You guys are so sweet."

"It's…totally not like that," Sam automatically began to sputter, but Jack disinterestedly cut him off. "Sorry about the delay. I had to take the Nav-Com offline to override the teleport security."

"You spent ten minutes overriding your own protocols?" asked the Doctor. "Maybe you should remember whose ship it is."

"Oh, I do," chuckled the Captain. "She was gorgeous. Like I told her, be back in five minutes." He ducked down to inspect some wiring in the console.

The Doctor took that moment to look around the craft. The structure, the lights, the wiring… "This is a Chula ship," he said.

"Yeah, just like that medical transporter," said Jack. He looked up at them. "Only this one is dangerous."

The Doctor snapped his fingers suddenly. A golden swarm of tiny light particles gathered around his hand. "Oh yeah," said Sam. "I'd gotten rope burn from the barrage, and Jack used those things to fix me up."

"Nanogenes," said the Doctor, watching as the light specks danced around his hand. "Sub-atomic robots. There's millions of them in here, see? Burned my hand on the console when we landed. All better now. They activate when the bulk head's sealed. Check you out for damage, fix any physical flaws." The nanogenes disappeared as quickly as they'd come, and the Doctor, hand newly healed, looked at Jack. "Take us to the crash site. I need to see your space junk."

 

-

 

They found the ambulance…and Nancy. Jack got the capsule open. "It's empty. Look at it."

"Chula ambulance? What did you expect to find? Bandages, cough drops?"

"Nanogenes!" exclaimed Sam.

"It wasn't empty, Captain," said the Doctor, spitting the name. "There were enough nanogenes in there to rebuild a species."

Horror bloomed on the Captain's handsome face as realization dawned on him.

"Getting it now, are we?" said the Doctor coldly. "When the ship crashes, the nanogenes escape. Billions upon billions of them, ready to fix all the cuts and bruises in the whole world. But what they find first is a dead child, probably killed earlier that night, and wearing a gasmask. So they bring him back to life. Because what's life? Life's easy. A quirk of matter. Nature's way of keeping meat fresh. Nothing to a nanogene. One problem though. These nanogenes, they're not like the ones on your ship. This lot have never seen a human being before. Don't know what a human being's supposed to look like. All they've got to go on is one little body, and there's not a lot left. But they carry right on. They do what they're programmed to do. They patch it up. Can't tell what's gasmask and what's skull, but they do their best. Then off they fly, off they go, work to be done. Because, you see, now they think they know what people should look like, and it's time to fix all the rest. And they won't ever stop. They won't ever, ever stop. The entire human race is going to be torn down and rebuilt in the form of one terrified child looking for its mother, and nothing in the world can stop it!"

"I didn't know!" exclaimed the Captain helplessly.

Mummy…mummy…mummy…

They looked out into the dark courtyard to find that the empty people had found them. A whole legion of them, emerging from the shadows, all moaning the same innocent plea: Mummy.

 

-

 

The girl saved them.

"Yes," she whispered to the little boy. "I am your mummy. I will always be your mummy." She took the boy in her arms and hugged him tightly.

Suddenly, a swirling of golden light surrounded mother and child. "Doctor, what's going on?" said Sam.

"Life," said the Doctor, feeling like he could cry. "Everybody lives, Sam. Just this once…everybody lives!"

 

-

 

The Doctor was happy. No, ecstatic. No, fantastic! "I need more days like this," said the Doctor, merrily dancing around the console of the TARDIS. "Go ahead, Sam. Ask me anything. I'm on fire!"

"Doctor…what about Jack?"

So, the Doctor saved the Captain. And now, here they were. Three men and a TARDIS.

"Much bigger on the inside," commented Jack.

"You'd better be," said the Doctor.

Jack smirked. "So Doctor…Sam tells me you're quite the dancer."

The Doctor grinned mischievously and snapped his fingers. Suddenly, some lively jazz music came on. "Care to give it a go?" asked the Doctor, offering his hand.

"Well-" But Jack was suddenly cut off as Sam took the Doctor's hand instead. "Actually, I think I'll be cutting in, if you don't mind."

"Jack," said the Doctor, as he and Sam began swaying to the music. "What did you do to my companion?"

Jack chuckled to himself as he watched the two men dance. That's the thing, Doctor. I don't think I had to do anything at all.

Chapter Text

"And this is your room," said Sam, leading the taller man down the corridor. He pointed to the door opposite Jack's quarters. "This one's mine. Just holler if you need anything, alright?"

Jack put on one of his megawatt smiles and leaned on his elbow against the wall. "You mean you're not going to invite me in?"

Sam blanched. "Oh, er…"

Jack laughed. "Down, boy. I'm messing with you. Besides, I'd never steal another man's boy toy."

Sam gave a disgusted sigh. "Look, I'm telling you like I've told what seems like everyone in the universe and their mother-the Doctor and I are not like that!"

"Really?" said Jack, raising an eyebrow. "Didn't look like that from where I was standing."

"Try standing somewhere else next time," grouched Sam.

"You're the one that danced with him," Jack pointed out slyly.

"Yeah, well, I danced with you too. And then you and the Doctor danced. It was nothing…and by the way, if word ever gets out that I danced with two blokes, I swear to God-"

"Alright, alright," laughed Jack and put his hands up in defense. "Your secret's safe with me, Mister Straight Arrow."

"That's my name. Don't wear it out."

"Look, there's no shame in admitting that you're attracted to another man. As you can see, I have no qualms about it."

"Yeah, I noticed," said Sam. "Except that's the difference between you and me: I'm not into other men."

"No, just whatever the Doctor is. He is an alien, after all," said Jack, waggling his eyebrows. "Who knows what he's hiding in his trousers?"

"That's disgusting. And I am not interested in the Doctor!" Sam protested.

Jack shrugged. "I just call it like I see it."

"Well, I'd get myself to an eye doctor if I were you," Sam retorted.

"Man, you should have seen your face when I teleported you two onto my ship," cackled Jack. "Your face. It was beet red."

"Of course it was! I had tripped. That's embarrassing."

"Hmm, you tripped alright. Right into the Doctor's arms. He has nice arms, doesn't he? Big, strong, sturdy arms. Very manly. 'Oh, hold me, Doctor!'" Jack mocked him, clutching his hands to his heart dramatically.

"You're full of it," sputtered Sam.

"And the way he was looking at you," said Jack, grinning evilly at him. He was really on a roll now.

"He wasn't looking at me in anyway, except that he was as embarrassed as I was!" said Sam, his cheeks burning.

"Oh, you call that 'embarrassed? Funny. I would've called it lusty." Jack laughed shamelessly at the way Sam was squirming. "He wanted you, right then and there. I swear, if I hadn't spoken up when I had, you two would've thrown down. Which would have been very hot, I might add."

"Look, mate," said Sam, fuming. "Just because you two seem to think that sexual preference is subjective, I don't. I'm not from your time, and even if I was, well…I just don't see it that way! I'm not homophobic or anything, but that doesn't I mean fancy guys either. Understand?"

"Okay," said Jack, smirk well wiped from his attractive face. "I get it."

"Good. Now, good night," said Sam, turning sharply on his heel and walking into his bedroom, resisting the urge to slam the door behind him.

But even as Sam was pulling on his pajama bottoms, turning out the light, and climbing into bed, a thought was gnawing at the back of his mind: something was definitely changing.

Blimey. I've been running around with gay guys, or omnisexuals, or whatever they consider themselves, for too long. Tomorrow, the first thing I'm gonna do is ask the Doctor if we can go see Annie. I really, really need to be with a girl right now.

 

-

 

"Sure, no problem," said the Doctor promptly, setting the controls for England, 2006.

"Hopefully, we'll get it right this time," laughed Sam.

"Who's Annie?" asked Jack.

"My girlfriend," said Sam, giving Jack a pointed look.

Jack raised his eyebrows, but said nothing.

Annie met them in Cardiff. "Sam!" she said, grinning as she raced into his hug.

"Hello, love," he said, kissing her on the lips, making sure that Jack could see.

"Hello, Doctor," she said as she shook his hand, keeping her voice politely distant.

"DI Cartwright. Good to see you again," he replied, nodding his head respectfully.

"A policewoman, huh?" said Jack, grinning suggestively as he approached the girl. "Good to have one on hand. Never know who's going to act naughty." He winked and kissed her hand. "Hi. I'm Captain Jack Harkness."

"Alright, alright, that's enough," said Sam as Jack went to kiss her hand again. "How long's it been this time?"

"Six months," she said. "Not nearly as off track as before, timewise. Although, you could've parked a little closer than Cardiff," she said, smiling.

"You look great," said Sam. "Mind you, it's only been a few weeks for me."

"Still getting used to that," said Annie, shaking her head. "The whole…time travel thing. It's just so-"

"Fantastic?" said the Doctor pluckily.

"Strange," replied Annie. "I miss you a lot when you're gone, Sammy."

Sam grinned and kissed her again.

"Aw, so sweet, these two," said Jack mockingly. He looked over at the Doctor. "How come I never get any of that?"

"Buy me a drink first."

"You're such hard work," whined Jack.

"But worth it." The Doctor smiled sweetly at him, then turned to Annie. "We've just stopped off here to refuel the TARDIS."

"See, Cardiff's got this rift in time and space running through it, and-"

"Okay, too much tech talk for me," said Annie, raising her hands to stop Sam. "Just…tell me you're staying for awhile."

Sam looked at the Doctor. "Well…," said the Doctor, rubbing the back of his neck. "It'll take about twenty four hours for the TARDIS to fill up, so…I suppose it wouldn't hurt."

Annie smiled at Sam, linking her arm with his. "Lovely! Let's do lunch then. All four of us."

The group clambered out of the TARDIS. "That lady's staring," said Annie.

"Probably wondering what four people could be doing inside a small wooden box," said Jack, smirking.

"What are you Captain of, anyway? The Innuendo Squad?" asked Annie.

Jack winked at her.

"Ah, Cardiff," said the Doctor, as the gang headed off. "21st century, and the wind's blowing in from the east. Safest place in the universe."

Chapter Text

Open mouth, insert foot. The Doctor had been wrong.

They had had to deal with Margaret Blaine, or rather, Blon Fel-Fotch Passameer Day-Slitheen, who had somehow survived the blast at 10 Downing Street and was now posing as Lord Mayor of Cardiff. They had captured her and shut down her nuclear power plant that was meant to meltdown and aided by the Cardiff rift, cause the entire Earth to implode. The "Blaidd Drwg" project, she called it.

The Doctor had seemed very surprised at this. "How did you think of the name?"

"What, 'Blaidd Drwg'? It's Welsh," she'd answered.

"I know, but how did you think of it?"

"I chose it at random, that's all. I don't know. It just sounded good," she shrugged. Then, noticing his pensive state, she added, "Does it matter?"

He turned around and looked at Sam. "Blaidd Drwg."

"What's it mean?" asked Sam, feeling his stomach squirm.

The Doctor swallowed. And he said it. The two words that had been stalking them to every corner of the universe.

"Bad Wolf."

"But I've heard that before," said Sam. At the mere mention of the two words, images and memories sprang into his mind from the past few months. His conversation to Gwyneth, the "BadWolfTV" channel on Satellite Five, even the graffiti tags in his own alley. "Bad Wolf. I'd heard that lots of times."

Sam stared as the Doctor continued, a cold clammy feeling crawling around in his insides. "Everywhere we go. Two words, following us…Bad Wolf."

"But…it's impossible. How can a couple of words be following us?"

The Doctor stared him down, a haunted look in his eyes. Then, his face suddenly morphed into that of a cheeky grin that so commonly crossed the Time Lord's face. "Nah. Just a coincidence."

 

-

 

"I've been thinking, you know," said Annie later. It was nighttime. The Doctor and Jack were holding Blon inside the TARDIS, and they were standing outside in the cool night air. Annie had come wearing Sam's favorite sweater. It was form fitting and a shade of teal that perfectly complemented her eyes. Normally, that sweater would have Sam staring shamelessly. But tonight, for some reason…

Sam shook his head. "Sorry, what were you saying?"

"Well, we could…go have a drink, maybe," said Annie, taking his hand. "Have dinner somewhere, just you and me."

"Yeah…yeah, that'd be nice," said Sam, nodding, as he stared at the TARDIS.

Annie followed his gaze. "And if the TARDIS can't leave till morning, we could…go to a hotel. I mean, if you want to."

"Er…what?" said Sam.

Annie sighed exasperatedly. "Nothing. Just nothing."

"No, really, Annie, I'm listening honestly-"

"No, you're not. You're too busy staring at that ship. You're thinking about the Doctor, aren't you?" she accused, crossly folding her arms over her chest.

"What, no! Why would I be thinking about the Doctor, when you're right here?" exclaimed Sam.

Annie rolled her eyes. "Oh, I don't know," she said sarcastically.

"Look, love, let's just forget about the Doctor and the TARDIS and Jack and the Slitheen and just go to a bar or something. Come on." He took her hand and gave her a coaxing smile, complete with puppy-dog eyes. "Please?"

Annie slowly smiled. "Oh, alright," she said, and the two of them headed off.

 

-

 

Inside the TARDIS, the Doctor was watching them walk away together on the monitor. "What's on?" said Jack suddenly, sneaking up behind him.

The Doctor quickly changed the monitor to a display of the TARDIS diagnostics. "Nothing," he lied.

 

-

 

"..and something had happened, something to do with the sun, I don't know, but the sea had just frozen." Sam hadn't been able to able to resist talking about his travels with the Doctor again. Annie walked along beside him, glaring at her shoes. But Sam didn't notice. "In a split second, in the middle of a storm, right, waves and foam, just frozen, all the way out to the horizon. Midnight, right? We walked underneath these waves a hundred feet tall, made of ice-"

"I'm going out with Jimmy Stone," she interrupted.

Sam stopped short. They were standing on a dock looking out over the bay. Annie, arms crossed to shut out the cool wind, stood at the banister facing the water, not looking Sam in the eye.

"Er…Jimmy Stone? You mean, my mate from school. Jimmy Stone? Jimmy Stone, who played lead guitar in our band? Jimmy Stone, the heroin junkie?"

"Yes, Jimmy Stone, the ex-heroin junkie," she snapped.

"Oh…" Sam rubbed the back of his neck. "So he's clean then?"

"Yes."

"Oh. Well…good. Great. Brilliant…well…"

Annie swallowed and turned around to face him. "So, tell me more about this ice planet, then."

"Oh…er…that was it, really."

 

-

 

"So," said Blon, sipping her wine. "Who is that handsome man you have on your ship now? He wasn't with you before."

"Captain Jack Harkness," answered the Doctor. He had agreed to give the Slitheen a final meal before he returned to her home planet, Raxacoricofallapatorius, to be executed. She had made several clever attempts to assassinate him over the evening, but he, being cleverer, had thwarted them easily.

"Ah. Well, he is rather pretty," said Blon, pointedly raising her eyebrows.

The Doctor shrugged indifferently. "Yeah. Pretty bothersome."

"Oh, yes, of course. Your attentions are already preoccupied, aren't they?" She smirked.

"If you're referring to Sam, he's got a girlfriend. Or were you too busy trying to escape to notice?"

"The DI is a sweet young thing, isn't she? Yes, I noticed. But Sam didn't really seem to, did he?"

"Let's keep my private life out of this, shall we?"

"She reminds me of this girl, just today. A young thing, something of a danger. She was getting too close. I felt the blood lust rising, just as the family taught me; I was going to kill her without a thought. And then...I stopped. She's alive somewhere, right now. She's walking around this city because I can change. I did change. I know I can't prove it-"

"No, you can't," agreed the Doctor.

"Give me a chance, Doctor. That's all I'm asking. I can change."

The Doctor looked off into the distance. "I'd like to think so. But you see, I've heard that line too many times to count. People like you…you don't change. If you do, it's only for the worst. I don't believe you, Blon Fel-Fotch Passameer Day-Slitheen. I don't believe in much anymore."

 

-

 

"He was puking on your shoes when you met him!"

"That was a long time ago! He's changed! And so have you, Sammy!"

"Why do you keep saying that?!"

"You used to be different. You were quiet, predictable. I liked that! I could always depend on you! But then that Doctor came along-"

"Oh, leave him out of this! This has nothing to do with him!"

"Of course! Go ahead, defend him! I'll bet you don't even think about me when you're with him, do you. In fact, if we went to a hotel right now, you'd be thinking about him the whole time, wouldn't you?"

"That's disgusting! I'm telling you, it's not like that! Besides, you know you could've come with us!"

"Well, what was the point? I could see from the way you looked at him that I was losing you!"

"The Doctor is not my boyfriend!"

"I can't even go out with a stupid ex-junkie because you pick up the phone and I make a mad dash for the next train to bloody Cardiff! I mean, is that what I am, Sam, standby?" She looked glared him, blinking back tears. "Am I just supposed to stay here for the rest of my life, waiting for you?" She sniffled. "Because…I will."

Sam stood there, mouth agape.

"You can't even say anything?" she squeaked incredulously.

Sam swallowed and looked down at his shoes. "I'm sorry."

"Yeah, you sure are," she muttered, stomped back the way they had come.

"Annie!" Sam chased after her and hugged her sobbing form tightly. "Look, love, I'm sorry, truly I am. But this, this life…it's all I've ever dreamed of."

"I'm sure."

"No, Annie, I mean I've literally dreamt of this. Look, I'm not with the Doctor because we're shagging or anything. I'm with him because there are questions in my life that I can't answer and I feel like the Doctor could give me the answers."

"But what we had," she said, sniffling. "It was nice. We were happy. At least I thought we were."

"We are. I am," he said. "I just…I…"

"Look," she said, wiping her eyes. "I'm not asking you to leave him, because I know that's not fair. But I just need something. Some sort of promise that when you do come back, you're coming back for me."

Suddenly Sam heard a deep rumble. "Is that thunder?"

"I dunno," said Annie, miserably shrugging. "Does it matter?"

There it went again, louder and stronger. "That's not thunder," said Sam, taking off for the TARDIS.

"Oh, go on then, run!" she cried after him. "It's him again, isn't it?! It's the Doctor! It's always the Doctor! It's always going to be the Doctor. It's never me!"

 

-

 

The Slitheen stood there, Sam's neck grasped in her strong alien arm, captivated by the golden glow seeping out from the TARDIS's console. "What's that light?" Sam managed to choke.

"The heart of the TARDIS," said the Doctor proudly. "This ship's alive. And you've opened its soul," he added, looking at Blon, who continued to stare into the light.

"It's so…bright," she whispered in wonder.

"Look at it, Margaret," coaxed the Doctor.

"Beautiful…"

"Look inside, Blon Fel-Fotch," he said kindly. "Look at the light."

The Slitheen gazed into the heart of the TARDIS, enraptured. Her arm relaxed and dropped Sam. Her skin shone like white diamonds. She smiled heartbreakingly at the Doctor. "Thank you," she choked.

 

-

 

The TARDIS converted the Slitheen to an egg.

"She can start again," explained the Doctor. "Live her life from scratch. If we take her home, give her to a different family, tell them to bring her up properly, she might be all right."

"Or she might be worse," said Jack pessimistically.

"That's her choice," said the Doctor, smiling down at the little life in his hands.

"She's an egg," said Sam, shaking his head at the brilliance of it all.

"She's an egg," agreed the Doctor.

Then Sam remembered. "Annie."

He got up and ran out of the TARDIS, back to the place where he'd left her.

But she was nowhere to be found.

 

-

 

"We're all powered up. We can leave. Opening the rift filled us up with energy. We can go, if that's all right," said the Doctor as Sam stepped back inside the TARDIS.

"Er, yeah," he said distractedly. "Fine."

So, three men and a baby took off for Raxacoricofallapatorius, leaving Annie and Cardiff behind.

Chapter Text

Sam awoke with his head pounding. He was lying on the floor of a dimly lit room, and looked up to find a black man in an all black suit kneeling over him. "What happened?" he mumbled.

"It's all right," said the man, smiling, but the warmth did not meet his eyes. "It's the transmat. Does your head in. Get a bit of amnesia."

Sam managed to sit up a bit, and rubbed the back of his head confusedly.

"What's your name?" asked the man.

"Er…Sam. But…where's the Doctor?" Sam looked around, as if expecting to see him standing somewhere nearby. "We were…I was just with him…"

They had just left Raxacoricofallapatorius. The Doctor had delivered Blon the egg off at an orphanage (or whatever they had on that planet), and now they were back in the Time Vortex, where the TARDIS preferred to stay in between excursions.

Sam was sitting on his bed, reading a book, but not really. He was just staring at the pages dully, occasionally turning one. If you had asked him what he was reading, he wouldn't have been able to tell you.

Sam heard a hesitant knock on his bedroom door, and it creaked open as the Doctor curiously poked his head inside. "Er…Jack fancied a trip to ancient Kyoto," he said. "Do you want to come along?"

Sam shrugged. "To be honest, Doctor, I'm just…I'm feeling a bit drained."

The Doctor stepped inside his room, and partially shut the door behind him. "Listen, Sam. That girl cares a great deal about you. She'll forgive you eventually."

"I dunno, will she?" said Sam, shutting the book. "Cause I really think this is it for us. The things she said…it's funny. But before I met you, before I hitched a ride on your crazy ship-"

The TARDIS let out a reproachful groan.

"Sorry," said Sam to her. "Before I met you, she was all I had. I mean, I had a couple of mates, sure, but no one really close. No real family either. Just that apartment, the shop, and her. My life was…small. Uncomplicated. And now…I don't know why I'm telling you all this," he sighed.

"I don't mind," said the Doctor.

"Yeah, I know," said Sam. "Thank you. You're…fantastic." He offered a small smile. "But the thing is-"

The room began to glow. "Er…what is that?" said Sam, looking around wildly.

"Doctor!" they heard Jack calling from downstairs in the console room. "What's going on?"

"I don't know!" cried the Doctor, looking panicked.

"Doctor!" cried Sam, jumping up.

And that was the last memory Sam had before waking up here.

"Just remember," said the man. "Do what the android says. Don't provoke it. The android's word is law."

"Wha-what do you mean 'android'?" stammered Sam. "Like a robot?"

"Positions, everyone, thank you!" a voice suddenly rang out, accompanied by impatient clapping.

The man offered a hand. "Come on. Hurry up."

Sam, head buzzing with questions, took the man's hand, and struggled to get to his feet. "I…I was traveling," Sam babbled. "With the Doctor. And a man called Captain Jack. Have you seen them?"

"That's enough chat!" snapped the sharp female voice. "Positions! Final call! Good luck."

Sam looked up to see a panel of game show podiums, about seven or eight of them, all lined up in a semicircle, arching around a dark figure in the middle of the black room, which Sam now realized, observing the cameras and strobe lights, was a studio of sorts.

"But I'm not supposed to be here!" sputtered Sam.

"Well it says 'Sam' on the podium," said the black man, nodding to a stand in the center.

Sam, green eyes wide with bewilderment, looked where the man's eyes were directed, and sure enough, among the ranks, there was a podium marked 'Sam'.

Sam was perplexed. "Come on!" whispered the man, rushing off to take his own place, behind a podium next to Sam's that was nameplated 'Rodrick'. Sam, through his stupor, followed suit.

Why does this place look so familiar? He said, looking around the studio. I swear to God, this place looks exactly like…

Suddenly, spot lights lit up the mysterious figure in the center. "Welcome…to The Weakest Link!" said a tinny voice coming from the large robotic woman.

Oh. The Anne Droid.

 

-

 

"Transmitting in 12, 11, 10-" the stage manager was counting down.

"But I've got to find the Doctor!" Sam hissed to Rodrick.

"Just shut up and play the game!" said Rodrick, looking disgusted.

Sam swallowed and said, "All right then. Fine. What the hell? I'm gonna play to win!"

"Three…two…"

"Let's play…" said the Anne Droid. "The Weakest Link!"

The familiar theme music played over the loudspeaker, and the Anne Droid continued. "Agorax," she said to the first man in line. "What basic food stuff is an anagram for 'beard'?"

After an instant's hesitation, the man answered, "Bread!"

"Correct. Fitch, in the pan traffic calendar, which month comes after Hoop?"

"Is it…Clavadoe?" said the woman, unsure.

"No, Pandov. Sam, in maths, what is 258 minus 158?"

"Er…one hundred," answered Sam. That had been easy enough…thank God.

"Correct. Rodrick-"

"Bank," he said, looking smarmy.

"Which letter of the alphabet appears in the word 'dangle', but not in the word 'gland'?"

"…E," Rodrick replied.

"Correct. Colleen, in social security…"

And so the game dragged on.

 

-

 

"Fitch, you are the weakest link. Goodbye." A panel where the Anne Droid's mouth and chin would be slid open, and a tube came out, like a lens on a digital camera, and for a moment, Sam thought the Anne Droid was going to take her picture.

Fitch, tearing streaking down her cheeks, turned to her left and looked at Sam. "Help me!" she whimpered.

Sam was confused. She'd just be asked to leave. That was all-

Then a yellow beam shoot of the Anne Droid's mouth and struck the hysterical woman. Before Sam's very eyes, Fitch disappeared.

There was a horrified silence as Sam stared the space where Fitch had been standing two seconds ago.

"And…we've gone to the adverts!" called the manager. "Back in three minutes!"

"What's that?" gasped Sam to Rodrick. "What's happened to her?"

"She was the weakest link, she gets disintegrated," he said coldly, rubbing her name off of his wipeboard.

Sam stood there, mouth agape. "But I…I voted for her," he whispered, sickened with himself.

Rodrick shrugged.

"Oh my God…this is sick!" Sam looked around. "She's dead, and it's because of us, we sent a person to their death! Don't any of you care?! I'm not-"

Sam was about to declare himself out of the game, but Broff beat him to it. "I can't do this!" he exclaimed tearfully, breaking for the door.

The Anne Droid's cool metal gaze followed him. "You are the weakest link." She finished him off another laser. "Goodbye."

Sam stared in horror.

The Anne Droid turned back to face him, her cold emotionless robotic expression daring him to make a run for it.

"Don't try to escape," whispered Rodrick.

Sam shuddered. He now knew what this was. It was play…or die.

Chapter Text

Bad Wolf. Again.

When Rodrick casually mentioned that the Game Station was manned by the Bad Wolf Corporation, Sam realized: he wasn't here by mistake. "Someone's been planning this," he muttered.

The Doctor was realizing it too, when Linda-with-a-Y Moss showed him who was controlling the Game Station. "Your lords and masters," she said, gesturing to the huge sign that said "BAD WOLF CORPORATION."

"Hey, handsome," said Jack, who had tracked down the Doctor after escaping his own game. "Good to see ya. Any sign of Sam?"

"Can't you track him down?" asked the Doctor, anxiously.

"He must still be inside the games. All the rooms are shielded."

"If I can just get inside this computer," muttered the Doctor, fiddling around with various wires inside one of what used to be Satellite Five's computers. "He's got to be here somewhere."

First priority, Sam. Then, save the earth.

"Well, you'd better hurry up," said Jack. "These games don't have a happy ending."

"Do you think I don't know that?" snapped the Doctor.

Jack held up his hands in surrender, then handed over the micro computer on his wrist. "There you go, patch that in. It's programmed to find him."

"Thanks," said the Doctor, and set to work, ignoring Jack's flirting with Linda-with-a-Y. "It's not compatible!" he exclaimed, kicking the computer frustratedly. "This stupid system doesn't make sense. This place should be a basic broadcaster, but the systems are twice as complicated. It's more than just television. This station's transmitting something else."

"Like what?" asked Jack.

"I don't know. This whole Bad Wolf thing's tied up with me. Someone's manipulating my entire life. It's some sort of trap and Sam is stuck inside it."

But ten minutes later, Lynda, who was surprisingly good with the computers on Satellite Five, managed to work her way into the system. "Found him!" exclaimed the Doctor. "Floor 407!"

Lynda gasped in horror. "He's with the Anne Droid! You've got to get him out of there!"

 

-

 

"SAM!"

Sam looked up and saw the Doctor, looking furious, but also joyous to see him. And suddenly he knew…everything would be okay.

The Doctor stared at Sam in relief. He had been so scared that he had lost him, that he wouldn't make it in time.

"Sam, you leave this game with nothing…" The Anne Droid was mechanically droning on with its death threats, but neither the Doctor nor Sam cared.

"I order you to stop this game!" roared the Doctor at the executives.

"You are the weakest link…"

"Look out for the Anne Droid, it's armed!" cried Sam, running away from the podium and to the Doctor.

Sam was only four feet away from the Doctor, when suddenly a blinding white beam of light struck him in the back. The Doctor, unable to tear his eyes from the heinous sight, could only stare helplessly as Sam was blasted to a pile of ashes before him.

The Doctor fell to his knees, ears ringing, eyes stinging. He knew that off to the side, Jack was screaming at the staff in rage, and that Linda-with-a-Y was somewhere behind him, that the staff were running around like chickens with their heads cut off, and that there was smoke in the air, choking him, but he didn't really absorb it. All he could focus on was the amalgamation of white dust on the floor. The dust that used to be Sam.

He shakily reached out and touched the ash, leaving trails from his fingers in it, as if his touch could reform Sam. As if this was all some cruel joke, and that any moment now, Sam would pop up and say, "Oi, Doctor, don't look so sad, mate." What the Doctor would do right now, just hear Sam's voice right now, or see him standing there, hands awkwardly stuffed into the pockets of his black hoodie, or watch his cheeks turn that endearing shade of pink when someone implied that he and the Doctor were a couple, and hear him protest abashedly "I'm not gay!". Not that they ever were a couple. Not that they ever even would be now.

The Doctor didn't care when the security guard grabbed him up roughly by his leather jacket, or when Jack screamed at him. "Don't you touch him, leave him alone!", or when the guard put a gun to his head and threatened Jack that he would shoot the Doctor if Jack did not drop his weapon, and when he was being read his Miranda rights…all was black. All was numb. This was like the destruction of Gallifrey, all over again. Except this time, it was someone the Doctor had a real, personal connection with.

This time, it was Sam.

 

-

 

The Doctor stared as the Master clung pathetically to the pole while being sucked into the Eye of Harmony. He knew that just letting the Master fall in would be more beneficial for the universe in the end, but…he just couldn't let him die.

Maybe…just maybe…Koschei was still there. Somewhere, deep down inside, behind the twisted brambles and thorny vines of the Master's malignant lunacy, his old friend, his old… love …was still in there.

Despite all of the Master's sins, the lives he'd taken, the countless he'd made to suffer, the worlds he'd destroyed, the instances when he attempted to kill the Doctor, even the instances when he'd been successful in killing the Doctor…in spite of these dastardly deeds, all these trespasses…the Doctor forgave the Master.

It was himself that he could not forgive.

He held out his hand to help the Master. "Give me your hand!" he cried desperately. But the Master swatted his hand away, too full of pride and hate for the Doctor. (And why wouldn't he be? After all…the Doctor had shaped the monster in front of him today out of the man he'd sworn to love.)

The Doctor watched helplessly as the Master was sucked into the Eye Of Harmony, and felt his hearts break all over again…

 

-

 

"Who's in charge of this place?" the Doctor demanded, aiming his gun at the Controller, who instead of answering, continued to count deliriously. "This Satellite's more than a Game Station. Who killed Sam Tyler?!"

"All staff are reminded that solar flares-"

"I want an answer!" shouted the Doctor.

"She can't reply," said one of the staff. The Doctor switched his weapon on him. "Don't shoot!" squeaked the man.

The Doctor sighed and casually tossed the gigantic firearm at the man. "Oh, don't be so thick, like I was ever gonna shoot. Captain, we've got more guards on the way up. Secure the exits."

"Yes, sir," replied Jack, following the Doctor's orders.

The Doctor turned his glare back to the staff member. "You. What were you saying?"

"But I've got your gun," said the man confusedly.

"Okay, so shoot me, why can't she answer?" asked the Doctor impatiently.

"She's…er…can I put this down?"

"If you want, just hurry up!"

"Thanks. Sorry," the skittish man apologized, setting the gun down on the ground. "The Controller is linked to the transmissions. The entire output goes through her brain. You're not a member of staff, so she doesn't recognize your existence." He studied the Doctor as he was about to be struck across the face.

"What's her name?" asked the Doctor.

"I don't know," said the man. "She was installed when she was five years old. That's the only life she's ever known."

"Door's sealed," reported Jack, coming back. "We should be safe for about ten minutes."

"Keep an eye on them," replied the Doctor.

"But that stuff you were saying about something going on with the Game Station," the man broke in. "I think you're right. I've kept a log. Unauthorized transmats, encrypted signals, it's been going on for years."

"Show me," ordered the Doctor.

Meanwhile, Jack was attempting open a door. "You're not allowed in there," said another staff member, this one a short woman. "Archive Six is out of bounds. "

Jack held up his two guns. "Do I look like an out of bounds sort of guy?" Then he turned and broke into Archive Six.

The woman turned to the Doctor. "If you're not holding us hostage, then open the door and let us out. The staff are terrified!"

"That's the same staff who execute hundreds of contestants every day," snapped the Doctor.

"That's not our fault. We're just doing our jobs."

"And with that sentence, you just lost the right to even talk to me. Now back off!" the Doctor roared.

Suddenly, all the lights and computer screens in the flickered and dimmed. "That's just the solar flares," explained the rather skittish staff member. "They interfere with the broadcast signal, so this place automatically powers down. Planet Earth gets a few repeats. It's all quite normal."

"Doctor?" said the woman that the Doctor had just told to shut up.

"Whatever it is, you can wait."

The woman pointed to the Controller. "I think she wants you."

"Doctor? Doctor?" called the Controller, her voice sounding human for the first time since the Doctor had entered. She sounded like a scared child. "Where's the Doctor?"

The Doctor walked over. "I'm here."

"Can't see," her voice quavered. "I'm blind. So blind. All my life, blind! All I can see is numbers…but I saw you."

"What do you want?" asked the Doctor seriously.

"Solar flares hiding me. They can't hear me. My masters, they always listen, but they can't hear me now, the sun…the sun is so bright."

"Who are your masters?" interrogated the Doctor.

"They wired my head." She looked fearful. "The name is forbidden. They control my thoughts. My masters. My masters. I had to be careful. They monitor transmissions but they don't watch the programs. I could hide you inside the games. Knew that you would find me."

"My friend died inside your games," growled the Doctor.

"Doesn't matter," said the Controller.

"Don't you dare tell me that!" he threatened.

"They've been hiding. My masters, hiding in the dark space, watching and shaping the Earth so, so…so many years. Always been there, guiding humanity, hundreds and hundred of years."

"Who are they?" The Doctor pushed.

"They wait and plan and grow in numbers. They're strong now. So strong, my masters."

"Who are they?"

"But speak of you, my masters…" She stared out, wide eyed. "They fear the Doctor."

"Tell me, who are they?" the Doctor demanded, but just at that moment, unfortunately, the solar flares passed, and the Station repowered. The Controller resumed her mindless counting.

"When's the next solar flare?" the Doctor shot at the finicky staff member.

"Two years time," he replied.

"Fat lot of good that is," grumbled the Doctor, as Jack returned from Archive Six.

"Found the TARDIS," Jack said.

"We're not leaving now."

"No, but the TARDIS worked it out. You'll want to watch this." He turned to the girl. "Lynda, could you stand over there for me, please?

"I just want to go home," said Lynda, grimacing.

"It'll only take a second," assured Jack, offering a signature charming smile. "Could you stand in that spot? Quick as you can. Everybody watching? Okay. Three, two, one!"

Jack touched a control on the panel, and suddenly, a bright white beam, like the one that had killed Sam, was emitted from some point in the ceiling and zapped Linda-with-a-Y out of existence.

The Doctor stared at Jack in horror. "But you killed her!" he exclaimed.

Jack grinned confidently. "Oh, do you think?"

Another press of a button, and, miraculously, another beam of energy appeared two feet to the Doctor's left, along with Lynda. She swept her head around looking dazed, but alright nonetheless. "What the hell was that?" she asked.

"It's a transmat beam," said Jack, looking elated. "Not a disintegrator. A secondary transmat system. People don't get killed in the games. They get transported across space. Doctor, Sam is still alive!"

The Doctor had never been so open to accept a hug from the Captain in his long lives. "He's somewhere out there!" he said joyously.

"Doctor!" cried the Controller. "Coordinates 5.6.1-"

"Don't! The solar flare's gone!" exclaimed the Doctor. "They'll hear you!"

"-point 4.3-No, my masters, I defy you!" she screeched in pain. "Sigma seven seven-" The code was broken off by the Controller's shriek as her pale white body was electrocuted and destroyed down to white vapor.

The Doctor stared at the space where the Controller had been suspended, like a sickly crucifix. "They took her," he said with remorse.

They would not let her die in vain.

 

-

 

The skittish staff member gave Jack a microchip as he worked at the main computer, trying to locate Sam through the stuttered coordinates the Controller had supplied them. "Look, use that. It might contain the final numbers. I kept a log of all the unscheduled transmissions."

Jack studied the chip. "Nice," he said, looking up at the man with a megawatt smile. "Thanks. Captain Jack Harkness, by the way."

"I'm Davidge Pavale," said the man, smiling shyly as he accepted a handshake.

"Nice to meet you, Davidge Pavale."

"There's a time and a place," the Doctor reminded Jack.

"Are you saying this entire set up's been a disguise all along?" asked the woman.

"Going way back," replied the Doctor. "Installing the Jagrafess a hundred years ago. Someone's been playing a long game, controlling the human race from behind the scenes for generations."

"Click on this," said Jack, giving the Doctor the remote control to the holoscreen. The Doctor clicked the button, and the screen converted to an astro-diagram. "The transmat delivers to that point, right on the edge of the solar system," said Jack, directed the focus to a certain point on the screen.

The woman inspected the point. "There's nothing there," she said.

"It looks like nothing because that's what this satellite does," said the Doctor. "Underneath the transmission there's another signal."

"Doing what?" asked Davidge.

"Hiding whatever's out there. Hiding it from sonar, radar, scanner. There's something sitting right on top of planet Earth, but it's completely invisible. If I cancel the signal…" A few codes typed into the computer, and the screen revealed a huge space craft.

The Doctor stared at it, hearts sinking. It can't be, he thought, as more continued to appear on the screen.

"That's impossible," said Jack. "I know those ships. They were destroyed."

"Obviously, they survived," said the Doctor in horror.

"Who did? Who are they?" asked Lynda.

"Two hundred ships," continued the Doctor, staring at the screen. "More than two thousand on board each one…that's just about half a million of them."

"Half a million what?" said Davidge.

The Doctor suppressed a shudder. "Daleks."

The holoscreen shifted to a view of the interior of the Dalek mother ship. They were making contact.

The Doctor spied Sam, in his ratty blue jeans and red t-shirt, standing against the wall in the background. Despite the eminent danger, his hearts leapt at the sight of him. He was alive.

Sam, his eyes connecting with the Doctor's, gave a weak smile. Hello, mate, he seemed to say.

"I WILL TALK TO THE DOCTOR!" blared the one that seemed to be in charge.

"Oh, will you? That's nice." The Doctor tore his eyes away from his friend and looked at the Dalek. He gave a mock friendly wave. "Hello!"

"THE DALEK STRATAGEM NEARS COMPLETION. THE FLEET IS ALMOST READY. YOU WILL NOT INTERVENE."

The Doctor's expression turned sour. "Oh, really? Why's that, then?"

"WE HAVE YOUR ASSOCIATE," countered the Dalek. The Doctor swallowed, temper rising at the thought of Sam in the clutches of the cold, evil creatures. "YOU WILL OBEY OR HE WILL BE EXTERMINATED."

Sam glanced at the Doctor on the screen, trying to look impassive, but the Doctor could see the fear in his eyes, even with the separation. He felt his blood boiling with hate for the Daleks, the ones who wiped out his people, and who were now threatening to take another life. The life of a person he…

"No."

The Daleks hesitated, as if unsure what to say. "EXPLAIN YOURSELF," demanded the head Dalek.

"I said no," repeated the Doctor.

"WHAT IS THE MEANING OF THIS NEGATIVE?"

"It means no," he said.

"BUT HE WILL BE DESTROYED!" insisted the Dalek.

"No!" shouted the Doctor, standing up from his chair and glaring at the Dalek, right into its cold little eye stalk. "Because this is what I'm going to do. I'm going to rescue him," he said defiantly. "I'm going to save Sam Tyler from the middle of the Dalek fleet, and then I'm going to save the Earth, and then, just to finish off, I'm going to wipe every last stinking Dalek out of the sky!"

"BUT YOU HAVE NO WEAPONS!" argued the Dalek. "NO DEFENSES! NO PLAN!"

"Yeah," growled the Doctor. He grinned coldly at them. "And doesn't that scare you to death?"

Then he looked at the other man on the screen. "Sam?" he said.

Sam swallowed, his eyes wide. "Yes, Doctor?" he replied.

The Doctor smiled determinedly at him. "I'm coming to get you," he said, then reached out with the remote and broke the connection.

Chapter Text

The TARDIS materialized in the orangy-red meadow outside of the Prydonian, and Theta Sigma came rushing out. He was very much changed since he had left Gallifrey. His physical body was much older, about the Earth equivalent of thirty five or forty. His untidy blond curls were clipped short, and he had long since ditched his old student robes for a simple pair of black slacks, black dress shoes, and white suit shirt, accompanied by a black tie. He could easily be mistaken for a human being.

Theta excited looked around him. "Home!" he cried. He flung himself on the ground. "Oh, hello, old field! Hello, red grass!"

He jumped up and waved gaily to his old alma mater. "Hello, Prydonian! Hello, double suns! Hello, Gallifrey! I'm finally home!"

Theta spied a man head out of the building. "Bless my soul, it's old Borusa!" Theta muttered to himself. He immediately dashed up to him. "Borusa, Borusa! It's me!"

Borusa, a little worse for wear than the last time Theta had seen him, blinked up at Theta confused. "Hmm? Me who?"

"Theta Sigma, sir!" said Theta with a hiccupy laugh. "You haven't forgotten me that quickly, have you?"

Borusa's brow wrinkled. "Theta Sigma, Theta Sigma...it faintly rings a bell."

"Sir, I'm so sorry that I left, but...well, honestly, I don't know how to explain myself." Theta rubbed the back of his neck. "But listen, you wouldn't know where Koschei is, would you? You know, shorter fellow, dark hair, purple eyes. Oakdown."

Borusa, who finally seemed to recall, stared at Theta with fresh eyes. "You!" he sputtered. "How dare you even show your face around here!"

"Er...I don't know what you mean, sir."

"Never, in my six hundred years of teaching, have I ever encountered such a shiftless, underhanded, rebellious-" Borusa seemed to be instigating one of his famous tirades, but Theta cut him off.

"Er, don't mean to be rude, sir, but didn't you tell me you'd been a teacher for five hundred years?" he asked.

Borusa glared at Theta pointedly. "Three out of ten, Master Sigma. That was nearly a century ago."

Theta froze. "A hundred years. Professor...you must be joking."

"Oh, you mean you were not aiming for the distant future?" asked Borusa, raising an eyebrow. "Well, no wonder you stole that TARDIS. You obviously didn't pass your final examination."

"Well, actually, sir, I never got to take it, you see-"

"Come with me," growled Borusa, roughly grabbing Theta's arm. "You're obviously not that bright. You do realize that the pilferage of a TARDIS is considered high treason?"

Theta gasped. "What? No, Professor-!"

"I don't want to hear excuses, boy!" exclaimed Borusa, as if Theta had just tried to explain to him why he hadn't done his homework. "Come along. You must see the High Council immediately. But not before changing out those God awful clothes and into something respectable!"

Theta's mind reeled as Borusa tugged him along. A hundred years? No. That's impossible.

Koschei…

 

-

 

The Doctor didn't allow himself to breathe easily until Sam was back in the TARDIS, and he had pulled him into a tight squeeze. "Feels like I haven't seen you in years," said Sam, not even bothering to hide the relief or joy in his voice.

"Told you I'd come and get you," said the Doctor, giving him one of his rare smiles, the ones he reserved for special people. And Sam was very special indeed.

"I never doubted it," said Sam.

"I did," admitted the Doctor. "You alright?"

"Yeah. You?"

The Doctor shrugged nonchalantly. "Not bad. Been better." He went over to inspect the stinking remains of the Dalek while Jack and Sam hugged and said hellos.

"You said they were extinct," said Sam, meaning the Dalek. "How come they're still alive?"

"One minute, they're the greatest threat in the universe, the next, they vanished out of time and space," said Jack, also sounding mystified.

The Doctor swallowed. "They went off to fight a bigger war. The Time War."

Jack's blue eyes widened. "I thought that was just a legend."

"I was there," said the Doctor, staring at the Dalek's spoilt body. "The war between the Daleks and the Time Lords, with the whole of creation at stake. My people were destroyed, but they took the Daleks with them. I almost thought it was worth it." He blinked. "Now it turns out they died for nothing."

'There's thousands of them now," said Sam, glancing at the doors of the TARDIS. "We could barely stop one. What are we going to do?"

The Doctor looked up and put on a plucky, I-don't-give-a-damn, expression. "No good standing around here chin wagging! Human race, you'd gossip all day. The Daleks have got the answers." He clapped his hands together. "Let's go and meet the neighbors."


"Bring forward the accused," commanded the court manager, Arken. The guards pushed Theta into the ring, who had been stripped of his human attire and uncomfortably stuffed into traditional Gallifreyan robes. The only difference between these and his Prydonian uniform was that his old garb had been bright scarlet, and the ones he wore now were dark grey. The colors of a prisoner.

The manager cast an imperious look down at him. "What are the charges?"

The bailiff cleared his throat. "Case Four-Nine-Six-Beta-Gelf: the accused appropriated a TARDIS and left Gallifrey with it, failing to return until nearly a century later."

Arken gazed down at Theta. "That is a very serious charge. How do you plead?"

Theta swallowed. "Not guilty," he declared.

Arken raised an eyebrow. "Very bold. Do you have an alibi?"

"Well…yes," said Theta. "You see, I am currently ninety six years old. However, when I left Gallifrey, I was only fifty nine. I spent the next thirty seven years trying to return home, but…I didn't know how to fly the TARDIS very well. I hadn't even gotten the chance to take the examination for my license."

"According to the records, you escaped Gallifrey on the date of Tranzar-Michtectla, in the year Bowie-Har-0-0-6-1, and did return until yesterday, Apple-Stargate, Tirgis-Sigmund-8-4-11-3. You were absent for almost a hundred years, relative time."

"I didn't escape!" objected Theta. "You don't understand. I woke up in that TARDIS, and was stranded in space-time for nearly four years!"

"Excuse me, 'woke up'?" asked Arken, raising a surreptitious eyebrow.

"Yes, I woke up inside the TARDIS," said Theta. "I remember going to bed after a long day of classes. I was studying in the library until very late, long after second sunset. I went back to my dorm room. My roommate was already asleep. I went to bed, fell asleep, and the next morning, I woke up inside the console room of my TARDIS."

"A likely story!" exclaimed Arken. "Why, I've never heard such a porous, pathetic excuse for a defense. I suppose you stole the TARDIS in your sleep?"

"I didn't steal the TARDIS, it stole me!" Theta insisted.

"I'll hear no more of this inane drivel," declared Arken, banging his gavel. "I sentence the accused to four regenerations in the Arcadian Penitentiary. Proceed."

"Wait." A regal voice called out. Everyone in the room turned to look and gasped when they saw who it was.

"Lord President Pundat!" exclaimed Arken, standing from his pulpit and bowing. "To what do I owe this honor?"

"I've come here by the order of Rassilon," said Pundat, surveying the room. His eyes rested upon Theta Sigma for a moment, then back at the judge. "It is his wish that this young…degenerate of the House of Lungbarrow is exonerated from all charges immediately."

The onlookers gasped and muttered excitedly to themselves. Arken looked beside himself with shock. "Lord President, surely you can't mean that!"

"Do you question my authority?" asked Pundat, raising an eyebrow calmly, but threateningly. "Or perhaps, the will of Rassilon?"

"Why, no, of course not," sputtered Arken. "But-"

"Then no more needs to be said on the matter." Pundit nodded to Theta, who was the most confused of all. "Release him."

The bailiff relinquished Theta of his handcuffs. "Thank you. Theta Sigma, do they call you? I wish you to come with me."

Theta wordlessly followed the President out of the courtroom, leaving Arken and the rest of the jury speechless.

"Sir, thank you so much," said Theta, in utter shock.

"Don't thank me. Thank Rassilon. It was his jurisdiction that you be vindicated."

"But sir…why would Rassilon be concerned that a TARDIS thief be excused?" asked Theta. "Not that I stole the TARDIS. I never did, I swear."

"It is no worry of mine," said Pundat. "Perhaps Rassilon believes your story. Perhaps he knows something we don't. Perhaps you are meant for some greater purpose down the line. I wouldn't look a gift Ood in the tentacles. Go home, Theta Sigma. Spend time with your family."


The Doctor was met with cries of "EXTERMINATE!" and firings of the Daleks' laser cannons, which bounced harmlessly off of the invisible shield around the TARDIS. The Doctor held his arms in mock surprise. "Is that it?" he asked. "Useless! Nul point!" He turned the TARDIS and said to Sam and Jack, who were curiously poking their heads out. "It's alright. Come on out. That force field can hold back anything."

"Almost anything," corrected Jack.

"Yes, but I wasn't going to tell them that, thanks," said the Doctor, smiling grimly at him.

"Sorry."

The Doctor turned back to the Daleks and stared them down, straight into their sinister little eye stalks. "Do you know what they call me in the ancient legends of the Dalek home world? 'The Oncoming Storm'."

The Daleks remained stoic, but the Doctor knew them all too well. "You may have removed all your emotions. But I reckon right down deep in your DNA, there's one little spark left. And that's fear. Doesn't it just burn when you face me?"

The Daleks slightly turned to one another, trying to figure out what to do.

"So, tell me," the Doctor said. "How did you survive the Time War?"

"They survived through me."

The Doctor turned to look at the source of the voice. His gaze was met by a huge Dalek, a great green and purple mass of membranes, floating inside a tank of some extraneous liquid.

The Emperor of the Daleks.

 

-

 

"I just wanted to say, um…thanks, I suppose," said Linda-with-a-Y. "And…I'll do my best." They parted ways with an awkward handshake.

Jack was next. "Well…it's been fun," he said, grinning, trying to keep up the gallant act. "But I guess this is goodbye."

"Oi, don't talk like that, mate," said Sam, touching Jack on the shoulder. "The Doctor's going to do it. He always does."

Jack smiled at Sam painstakingly. He cupped his cheek with one hand. "Sam," he said, looking the other man dead in the eyes. "You are worth fighting for."

Sam stiffened a bit as Jack leaned in and dropped a chaste kiss on his lips. His eyes went wide, and his eyebrows shot up. It was clearly his first kiss with a man. Jack chuckled gently at Sam's discomfort and clapped him on the back.

"Wish I'd never met you, Doctor," said the Captain, turning to him. The Doctor chortled a bit. Jack pressed his hands to his cheeks and stared at him with big, soulful blue eyes. "I was much better off as a coward." He kissed the Doctor, softly, and a tiny bit longer and more intensely than the friendly peck he'd given to Sam.

Then, with a final finger point to each of them and a "See you in hell", the Captain boarded the lift. And their friend was gone.

The Doctor and Sam watched him go. "He's gonna be alright," said Sam.

"Yeah," said the Doctor, knowing that it was most likely untrue.

Sam bit his lower lip, awkwardly. "Er…that was my first kiss. You know…with a bloke."

The Doctor looked him and rolled his eyes. But he was smiling. "I know. I know."

 

-

 

"Theta," whispered Verity, cupping his face, looking at him, misty eyed. Theta couldn't believe his eyes as he looked upon his own mother. The difference in time really showed. She'd aged so much.

"Hello, Mother," said Theta, taking her hand and pressing a kiss to it. "I'm so, so sorry."

"Shh," she said, hugging him to her. "I don't care. You're home. That's all that matters now."

Theta accepted a firm handshake from his older half-brother, Braxatiel. "So. What were you doing for the last century, brother mine?" he asked, allowing the corner of his lips to turn up slightly. That was the closest Brax ever got a smile.

"Only thirty seven years," corrected Theta, grinning. "Oh, but the universe is absolutely astounding. I've seen so much, and I've only just begun. I must tell you all about it. But first, I really must find Koschei. I'm sure he'd want to know that I'm alive."

"Ah, the Oakdown boy." said Brax. "He's gone."

"Mm? What's that?" asked Theta, turning his good ear toward his brother. He'd gotten into something of a disagreement with a Sycorax awhile ago, and it had somewhat impaired his hearing.

"Your friend. He left the planet some time ago. I believe he was trying to locate you."

"Really?" asked Theta. "Well, darn. I'd really hoped he'd be here. I had so much to tell him. Well, fine, I'll just get my TARDIS later and-"

"Your TARDIS?" Brax raised his eyebrows. "Oh, brother mine, you surely can be naïve sometimes. Do you really think stolen property will just be returned to you? You don't even have a license to operate a TARDIS. And besides, that type 40 is has been outdated for decades now. It's probably the last of its model; it's most likely been put into a museum."

"What?!" Theta looked surprised. "Put my TARDIS in a museum? They can't just do that to her!"

"They can and they have."

"Besides, my dear," said Verity, smiling as she took her son's hand. "You cannot leave Gallifrey now. Not on the eve of your wedding."

"Wedding?" asked Theta.

"Why, yes, my dear. Your father derived from an old Rassilonate line. You, in turn, are betrothed to the air of the House of Jacaria."

"But I can't-I can't get married, Mother!" exclaimed Theta, leaping back a little. "I don't want to get married! I want to find Koschei!"

"Well, I'm sorry, my dear," said Verity soothingly. "But you were signed into this marriage contract since the day you were loomed. What's done is done."

Theta stared at his mother in horror. "But…but…"

Koschei.

Chapter Text

"Suppose…" Sam began to say something, but then hesitated.

"What?" asked the Doctor, as he and Sam sat on the floor, across from each other, untangling wires.

Sam shook his head. "Nothing."

The Doctor sifted through more wire. "You said 'suppose'."

"No, I was just thinking," said Sam. "I mean, obviously, you can't, but…look, you've got a bloody time machine, mate. Why can't you just go back to last week and warn them?"

"Soon as the TARDIS lands in that second, I become part of events. Get stuck in the timeline," answered the Doctor.

"Yeah," said Sam. "Thought it would be something like that. 'Rip a hole in the space-time continuum' or something, right?"

The Doctor looked up in surprise. "Yes, actually."

"Yeah, well," said Sam, shrugging. "I've seen Back To The Future. This is heavy, Doc."

They shared a laugh, then went back to the circuitry sorting. After a moment, the Doctor said, "There's another thing the TARDIS could do."

Sam looked at him, questioningly.

"It could take us away," said the Doctor. "We could leave. Let history take its course. We go to Marbella in 1989."

"We can't," said Sam.

"And why can't we?"

He shook its head. "It's just like the thing with the Dalek, Doctor. You're too good. You couldn't just walk away when people are in danger. It's not you." He grinned. "And frankly…I wouldn't have you any other way."

The Doctor slowly looked up, eyes wide. He stared at the other man for the longest time.

Sam awkwardly laughed and looked away. "Look at me," he coughed. "Need to go to a hunting gallery or a strip club or something. I'm getting all mushy."

"Mushy's alright sometimes," said the Doctor. "It never even occurred to you, did it? Asking to leave."

Sam shrugged. "Well…I guess I'm too good, too."

The Doctor smiled.

Suddenly, there was a soft, high-pitched whirring noise. The Doctor listened intently with his big ears. "The Delta Wave's started building. How long does it need?"

He and Sam jumped up to check the scanners. The Doctor punched some buttons and checked the readings on the screens. He watched and observed and calculated.

The Delta Wave could be completed by the time the Daleks arrived. But it would be too powerful. It would wipe out everything on this Satellite and on Earth, humans and Daleks alike. They all would die.

He had failed.

Sam watched the Doctor's face fall. "How bad is it?" he asked quietly.

The Doctor swallowed. All was lost. There was nothing for it now. The Daleks were coming, and they were going to win. They were going to destroy everything…again.

No. Not everything. Because there was one thing the Doctor cared about. More than the Earth, more than the people in the lower floors, more than his own life.

And his name was Sam Tyler.

He knew what he must do.

The Doctor put on a fake smile and jumped up. "Sam Tyler, you're a genius!" he exclaimed, and pulled him into a tight squeeze.

Sam confusedly smiled as he hugged the Doctor back. "I am?" he asked.

"Of course you are!" said the Doctor. "We can do it! If I use the TARDIS to cross my own timeline-yes!"

He turned and dashed into the TARDIS, Sam closely following. "Hold that down," he said, directing Sam to a certain lever. "And keep position!"

"What's it do?" asked Sam, breathlessly.

"Cancels the buffers," replied the Doctor. "If I'm very clever-and I'm more than clever, I'm brilliant!-I might just save the world! Or rip it apart," he added as an afterthought.

"Er, yeah, I'd shoot for the first one," said Sam.

"Me too! Now, I've just got to go and power up the Game Station. Hold on!" The Doctor raced out of the TARDIS and slammed the door shut behind him.

Sam, hand still on the lever, waited patiently for the Doctor to come back. After a moment or two, he heard the TARDIS's engines start up.

"Er, Doctor? Can I let go of this thing yet?" he called. "The ship's started up!"

But there was no reply.

Sam raced to the doors and tried to pull them open, but the Doctor had fixed. "Doctor, let me out!" he yelled, pounding his fist on the door. "Doctor?! What do you think you're doing? Doctor!"

As Sam continued to beat on the door, the TARDIS took flight, leaving the Doctor behind.

 

-

 

Sam stood in the console room, staring at the doors, as if willing the Doctor to come waltzing through them, and they'd go off to see Marbella or Feldspoon or whatever. "Doctor," he whispered.

"This is Emergency Program One," said a voice from behind him.

Sam gasped and turned around. "Doctor?" he said.

But it was not the Doctor. It was a blue-grey, grainy hologram of him.

"Sam, now listen, this is important," instructed the holo-Doctor. "If this message is activated, then it can only mean one thing: we must be in danger, and I mean fatal. I'm dead, or about to die any second, with no chance of escape."

"No!" gasped Sam, rushing over to the hologram, as it were actually the Doctor, as if he could actually make it see sense. But he had about as much change changing the hologram's mind as he did the real Doctor's.

"That's okay," continued the holo-Doctor. "Hope it's a good death. But I promised to look after you, and that's what I'm doing. The TARDIS is taking you home."

Sam shook his head in frustration and despair. "You stupid man! You can't do this!"

As if he heard what Sam had to say, the hologram shook its head and said, "And I bet you're protesting and saying, "You can't do this, mate!" Typical! But hold on and just listen a bit more. The TARDIS can never return for me. Emergency Program One means I'm facing an enemy that should never get their hands on this machine. So this is what you should do…let the TARDIS die. Just let this old box gather dust. No one can open it, no one'll even notice it. Let it become a strange little thing standing on a street corner. And over the years, the world'll move on and the box will be buried. And if you want to remember me, then you can do one thing. That's all, one thing…"

The holo-Doctor's head turned and looked straight at Sam, straight into his eyes. Sam gasped, a bit startled.

The Doctor smiled warmly at him, his blue eyes crinkling as they did when he smiled at Sam. "Have a good life," he said, his voice no longer sounding like it had been prerecorded; it sounded like the Doctor was right there, in the room with him. "Do that for me, Sam. Have a fantastic life."

And the hologram faded away.

"You can't do this to me," said Sam. "You can't do this to yourself! No!" He rushed over the controls and tried desperately to turn the TARDIS around. "Take me back!" he yelled. "You can't leave him!"

The TARDIS landed. "No!" cried Sam angrily, smacking his hand on the side of the console. He dashed outside, and in dismay, surveyed the familiar landscape of downtown London. The box had landed right outside the Powell Estates.

The Doctor had sent him home.

"No!" he said, rushing back inside. "Fly!" he said, pulling and pushing random buttons and switches. "Fly, damn you! We have to go back!"

But the TARDIS ignored him. "Come on, help me!" yelled Sam in frustration, still trying to work the console. "We have to go back!...We have to go back…"

Sam slowly slid to the floor of the console room. "No," he whispered. "No…"

 

-

 

He lay there for sometime until he heard the door of the TARDIS creek open tentatively.

"Sammy?" he heard a voice say.

"'Lo, Ann," he replied bleakly.

"I…I was just passing by on one of my rounds, and I saw the ship…it's been about three months," she said worriedly. "It seems like the Doctor's getting better at driving the ship, eh?"

"Oh, don't worry," said Sam, looking up at her. "I'm home. For good."

She bent down beside him. "What happened? Where's the Doctor?"

He swallowed. "Dead."

Annie gasped.

"He's dead, or just as good as, and there's nothing I can do to help him," Sam continued. "He knew there was nothing that could be done. So he sent me home. He sent me away...to save me."

 

-

 

Theta sullenly slipped on his marriage robes. They were unusually plain for normal Gallifreyan garb. They were plain black, with mint green trim-the house color of Lungbarrow.

He surveyed himself in the mirror silently. Black. It was a good color for this occasion.

"It's not exactly your color, I'll admit," said a voice behind him. "Too dark. Too angry. Too…evil."

Theta whirled around.

His visitor gave him a somber look. "Much better on me," he said, gesturing to his own black cloak.

Theta swallowed dryly. He tried to think of something to say, but what? What could he possibly say?

"You have a beard."

The man nodded. "It seems to fit this body well."

Theta blinked, as the meaning of the words set in. "You…regenerated?"

"Twice, actually," said the man. He looked Theta over. "And you're wearing marriage robes."

Theta could feel the pain and sorrow behind those words, the hidden meaning: "You were supposed to wear those on our wedding day." He could feel his old friend's hearts breaking with the very syllables, and his own hearts as well. "Koschei-" he began to say.

"No one's called me that in a very long time," said the man.

Theta looked down at his shoes briefly. "Then what do they call you?"

"The Master."

Theta let out a slight snigger in spite of himself.

The Master raised an eyebrow. "What's funny?" he inquired. His tone was calm, but highly poisonous.

"Nothing, nothing," said Theta. "Just…nothing."

"Yes, well, when I left Gallifrey, to go looking for my friend," he spat venomously, "I required a name that contracted respect. I'm afraid 'Koschei' didn't quite achieve that goal."

"Koschei was a brilliant name," murmured Theta, still not meeting his former friend's eyes.

The Master didn't reply to this. "So…what's she like?" he asked. "Your bride-to-be."

"Pleasant enough," replied Theta quickly. "She's a nice girl."

"Well, that's good for you," said the Master, trying desperately to mean it.

Theta cleared his throat. "Master, I'm very sorry. But…I had to go. I had to be free."

"Free from what, exactly?" snapped the Master, shooting darts at Theta with his glare.

"Just…just free. I wouldn't expect you to understand," said Theta, looking away.

"Ah, I see," said the Master. "And now that you've had your taste of liberty, you've returned home for the quaint life of wedded bliss. My, Theta, you really have it all, don't you?"

"Stop it," whispered Theta.

"Oh, what's the matter? Can't stand to hear the truth? Can't stand to be awoken from the pleasant dream that is your life?" The Master whirled away and stepped toward a window. "I'm afraid I won't be making it to your wedding. But don't worry. You and your dear ones have made it clear that I'm not wanted. Goodbye, Theta."

And with that, he fell from the window.

"Koschei!" exclaimed Theta, remembering suddenly that his dressing room was on the second story and dashed to the window.

The Master's TARDIS was parked on the side of the wall. The Master glared at Theta from the entrance to it, then slammed the door shut. It faded away with a loud whooshing.

Theta stared at the spot where the Master's TARDIS had been despondently. But before he could cry, before one single tear could fall, the door opened.

"Lord Lungbarrow?" asked the orderly. "Is everything alright?"

No. "Yes, everything's fine." He turned around. "Let's get this over with."

Chapter Text

"They started selling little cups of coleslaw here," said Annie, sitting down at the table. She'd driven herself and a stony silent Sam to a cheap, dinky diner nearby. "I don't much like it though. Tastes too much like hospital food…you know, there's a new pizza place out on Minto Road. You'd like it, they've got real good margarita pizza…oh, Sam, are you sure you won't eat anything?"

"Not hungry," he muttered, staring out of the window.

Annie sighed and put down her fork. "Sammy, look, if there was anything we could do-"

"200,000 years in the future, he's dying, and I'm stuck here, doing nothing!"

"He sent you home because he wants you safe," said Annie. "And I love him for that right now. You belong here, now, with me."

"But what do I do with myself?" snapped Sam. "What do I do? Get up, catch the bus, go to work, come back home…eat chips, and go to bed? Is that it?"

"It's what the rest of us do."

"Ann. You don't understand. I don't really know why, but…I need that life. I need to travel, to…be with the Doctor." Sam swallowed. "Maybe I can't explain it. But I have this feeling like I wasn't meant to be here, in this situation. It's like there's this other part of me, this whole other…life, this secret life, that I have. One where I can be free. And I need that life."

"A life without me?" demanded Annie.

"It's not about you, Annie. It's not even about me. It's about the Doctor. He's the most intelligent, most courageous, most good person I've ever known. When I was with him, he showed me things. And I don't mean all the traveling and seeing aliens and spaceships and things. That didn't matter, in the long run. The Doctor showed me what I've been searching for all my life: a home. I don't just mean the TARDIS. I mean the universe. It's big and it's complicated, and me and him, we were gonna see it all. I was lost, and the Doctor sought me out. He plucked me up from my pathetic little existence and showed me all the things I'm capable of, even if by accident, and I just can't-!"

"I'm sorry," said Annie, standing up, tears in her eyes. "I never realized how much you hated it here with me. I thought I made you happy, but I guess I wasn't enough." She grabbed her purse, through it over her shoulder and walked out.

"Annie!" But his cry was only met by the clanging of the bell on the café door.

 

-

 

Furious with himself for upsetting Annie (She really didn't deserve that, any of this. She'd been so patient with him, waiting around on him for months on end, never knowing when or if he was coming back. He'd been pretty crummy to her.) and not being able to get back to the Doctor, Sam ambled down to the basketball courts where he, Jimmy, and the Pace brothers used to hang out when they were teenagers. It was the same as he remembered. It was one of the few things that remained the same, after all that had happened.

Maybe…he could go back. To the way things were, he meant. Get a job at another shop, find himself another cheap apartment, pray to God Annie would take him back (Though, why should she at this point?)…he'd done it all his life. He could readjust. Settle down. And maybe, just maybe, in time, this constant drumming, these freaky visions would cease and fade from his memory, like a bad dream.

He could do what the Doctor told him: have a fantastic life.

Sam gazed across the blacktop. Some kids had recently been doodling with sidewalk chalk. A smiling yellow sun adorned with wavy flares graced what was almost a colorless scene. Today, the sky, the sidewalk, even the grass seemed grey.

Then, Sam blinked.

Bad Wolf.

Someone had written the ominous phrase on the asphalt. Sam's throat felt very dry. He looked up, and saw it again, spray painted on a brick wall. And there, on the side of a Dumpster.

Bad Wolf.

Bad Wolf.

Bad Wolf.

"What does it mean?" he whispered. "What are you trying to tell me? What the hell is 'bad wolf'?!"

He thought back to Satellite Five. To the great words, staring down upon the whole operation like a mighty eye of God.

"It's a link," he realized.

He turned and ran, back to the TARDIS. "I can get back! I know I can!"


The Master turned on a few switches and an image appeared on his large screen of the interior of the Doctor's TARDIS. The Doctor, in his outrageous and yet slightly accentuating red velvet suit, was at his own controls. The little girl, Jo, was rubbing her backside. "I think I've bruised my tailbone," she was saying.

The Doctor looked up. "Sorry about your coccyx, Jo, but these little things are sent to try us."

"My what?"

"Coccyx. Your tailbone!"

"I'm sorry about your coccyx too, Miss Grant," the Master finally spoke up. He had sort of a flair for the dramatic entrance in this body…well, actually, that characteristic popped up in every form. He smirked coldly. "How very sociable of both of you to drop in. What can I do for you, Doctor? Or is your visit purely social?"

"I thought we might have a little chat," said the Doctor, no brevity in his manor.

"What an excellent idea!" exclaimed the Master in mock delight. "Why not join me out here?"

The Doctor harrumphed. "One step outside my TARDIS and that would be the end of me, wouldn't it?"

The Master tsked a few times. "You have a very poor opinion of me, don't you, Doctor?"

"You've noticed! Well, well, well," said the Doctor, matching the Master's level of pleasant sarcasm.

"It might be of interest for you to know that I've put a time lock on your TARDIS," said the Master, smiling non-threateningly. That was somehow his worst smile. It meant he had what he wanted. "You cannot leave. Unless I lift it, of course."

"Do you think that I haven't thought of that, too?" asked the Doctor. "You're as trapped as I am. You couldn't even open that door of yours unless I wish it."

"Alternatively, I could fling you out into the time vortex now. I doubt whether you could do that to me, so be very, very careful, Doctor," countered the Master, growling a bit.

The Doctor glared him. "Do you really think I care what happens to me at the moment?" he asked, like a condescending child. "Don't you realize that your plans could ru-"

At this point, the Master had grown uninterested in the Doctor's jabber and flicked a switch on his console. The image of the Doctor, his lips moving back and forth, remained, but the sound disappeared. The Master chuckled to himself. "You know," he said, turning to Krasis, "he has an excellent brain, that man, though a little pedestrian." He put his hands on his hips and chuckled. "But, oh dear, what a bore the fellow is!"

"But is he dangerous?" fretted Krasis.

"He's dangerous enough," replied the Master. "But don't worry. I can handle him."

"But you said he was in there!" exclaimed Krasis, pointing to the blue box. "You told me he was safe in there!"

"Once he realizes that he's talking to himself, he'll be out here like a shot. Ah!" the Master exclaimed, seeing on the screen that the Doctor had turned to his young associate and was looking quite cross. "He's realized it at last. That took a long time, the slow witted fool. Now you watch. He cannot bear not to have the last word."

The Master watched as the Doctor pulled out a mini-loudspeaker from underneath his console. "Master, what is he doing?" needled Krasis.

"The same as I would, in his position," he answered.

"And what is that?"

"Wait and see, Krasis. Wait and see."

"And what are you going to do, Master?"

The Master just leered and chuckled. He was rather having fun, being so ornery. He felt as smug as a Cheshire Cat at the moment, playing these little pranks on the Doctor, like they'd done to each other in their Academy days.

"Testing, testing, testing. One, two, three, four, five. Testing," recited the Doctor, into the mic of his loudspeaker.

"I thought as much," said the Master, reaching for the controls on his console.

"Yes," said the Doctor, slightly cockily. "Can't turn me off now, can you? You've got to listen to me now."

"Have I?" challenged the Master, hitting a few buttons.

"Obviously, you've not as yet been able to bring Kronos through," said the Doctor. "Otherwise you wouldn't be going to Atlantis. So perhaps there's still time to make you realize the folly of your-"

Suddenly, the Doctor's words became garbled Gibberish. "-inyups senupwat. Neas nees nig datdat sig. Ilshnimuwat ijnilguin nyup nyp."

The Master put a hand to his ear. "I'm sorry, Doctor, what was that again?" He chortled mirthfully as the Doctor continued to speak backwards, then, realizing what the Master had done to his telepathic circuits, angrily turned off his speaker.


Sam had a plan. He remembered what had happened to Blon. If he could just figure out how to open the TARDIS console, he might be able to figure out how to fly it!

He stood in the TARDIS, studying the console, trying to figure out how he could open it. "Er…listen," he said, feeling a bit foolish talking to a ship. "I know you don't much care for me-"

The TARDIS gave a slight groan that Sam could've sworn was a "hmph".

"Yeah, but, see, that's not important right now," he said. "Because our Doctor, our…friend…he's in trouble. And we can't just leave him stranded. You've traveled with him for way longer than I have. And you know that he's too important to die. He's too good. So, please. Please just take me back to him."

The TARDIS remained unresponsive.

"Come on!" Sam yelled, resisting the urge to kick the console. He propped his hands on the edge and hung his head.

He stayed like that for a couple of minutes, until he heard a loud beeping outside, like a large truck backing up. Oh, what now? Sam worried that the TARDIS was about to be towed away or something, and he couldn't let that happen.

"Oi!" he called, rushing out. "What's-" Then he stopped.

Annie was hopping out of the cab of the great big yellow truck, a mass of chains in her arms. "Ann," said Sam, confused. "What are you-?"

"Shut up," she interrupted, dumping the metal chains in his arms. "And save your boyfriend. Before I change my mind."

She smiled faintly.

 

-

 

"Keep going!" Sam cried. "Floor it, Annie!"

The chain strained and stretched as the truck tugged on it. A small crack of light appeared in the console. "That's it, Annie! A little more!"

Annie gave the gas one final push, and the console popped open. Sam was blinded and was overtaken by the warm, golden energy.

Sam stared into the golden aura and felt a pulse of power course through his body, his brain, his very blood. And he lost himself…

 

-

 

Sam awoke in what he thought was the console room, except it was flooded by yellow light. He blinked a couple of times and looked up.

There was a man standing before him.

Actually, he was several men. A bright eyed boy with black hair, a short tan fellow, a medium sized pale man, a very tall man with sunglasses, a dark, burned creature, and many others among them. But for the most part, the man was short, had dark hair, and a goatee and mustache.

The man kept switching his form, back and forth.

"It's you," said Sam in wonder. "The man from my visions."

"Yes." He said. He shifted a few times. "I am the Master."

"Could you…er, decide on one shape?" asked Sam.

"Certainly." The Master changed once more, and remained, as the Academy boy. "Better?"

"Er…yeah," replied Sam. He slowly got to his feet. "Listen…Koschei, was it? Let me ask you something. Why do I have all these visions of you and the Doctor?"

"That is not important at the moment," said Koschei, in an ethereal tone. "What is impo-"

"No," said Sam. "I need to know. What are these visions?"

Koschei sighed. "They aren't visions, Sam Tyler. They're memories. Memories of my future. And…"

Sam's single heart stopped. "Memories of my past."

Koschei gave a single nod.

"But that means that I…I'm…" Sam couldn't say the words. "I'm the…"

"Not yet," said Koschei. "For now, you are Sam Tyler. And right now, the important thing is saving our Theta."

"How do we save him?" asked Sam.

"First of all," said Koschei, morphing into the medium sized, paler man, who Sam recognized as the Master with the stolen Trakenite body, "you must tell me. Why do you want to save the Doctor?"

"Because I…" Sam swallowed. He thought back to his memories of the Doctor. Not just as Sam Tyler, but when he was the Master, and even far, far back, to those wonderful days at the Academy. It felt strange, considering those memories as his. They didn't feel like his. It felt like he was watching a movie of someone else's life, through the eyes of a third party.

"That will pass," said the Trakenite Master. "In time, you will recover your real recollections. But first, you must answer the question. Why do you want to save the Doctor?"

"Because…" Sam took a breath and repeated the words the man in front of him had uttered so long ago. "The cosmos without the Doctor scarcely bares thinking about."

The Trakenite Master smiled, and again, morphed into another version of himself, this time, the tall man with the sunglasses. Another stolen body, this one human, and American. "You have answered correctly," the Bruce Master said.

"But how do I fly the TARDIS to the Doctor?" asked Sam. "I have to get to him."

The Master changed to his twelfth self, the one that had known the Third Doctor. "You must let the TARDIS inhabit your consciousness."

"How?"

"You are a psychic, Mr. Tyler. It should be fairly simple."

"Okay," said Sam, closing his eyes. He could feel the TARDIS's consciousness grabbing a hold of his own, like a large hand. "Wait," he said. "Will I remember any of this?"

"No," answered the Master. Sam's eyes popped back open in surprise.

He was looking at a mirror image of himself, except his hair was a bit shorter and neater, and he was wearing a plain black suit. The Sam-Master gazed back at him, his expression unreadable.

Sam looked at himself sadly. "I didn't think so." Then he shut his eyes, and let the TARDIS do its work.

Chapter Text

"We are beyond recriminations now," said the Monitor, as he, the Fourth Doctor, the Master, and the Doctor's three companions hurried back to the TARDIS. "Beyond everything."

"Not quite." The Doctor swallowed back his distaste and looked at the Master. "We must pool our resources."

Nyssa gasped. "The creature that killed my father?" she exclaimed, glaring at the Master, in his stolen body that had recently belonged to the kind, inventive Trakenite, Tremas.

"I can't choose the company I keep!" snapped the Doctor.

A smirk graced the Master's pilfered face. It was an expression that never would have suited Tremas, but befell the Master perfectly. "An alliance with you, Doctor?" he asked, sounding wickedly triumphant.

"In the circumstances, yes," scowled the Doctor, shoving his hands into the pockets of his thick burgundy coat.

"If we do cooperate, there'll be no question of you ever returning to Gallifrey," the Master pointed out.

"If we don't cooperate, there'll be no question of Gallifrey," countered the Doctor.

"Doctor, what are you doing?!" demanded Tegan, but the Doctor held up a hand to silence her. He understood their indignation. The Master had very recently killed those closest to Tegan and Nyssa, and although he didn't know it yet, he was about to kidnap Adric and utilize him for his own nefarious purposes. And how many times had the Master done he himself wrong? But now was not the time for harboring old grudges. He leaned toward the Master and said quietly, "As Time Lords, you and I have special responsibilities."

"Together, then." The Master leered, and the Doctor knew he was remembering old times. The Doctor frowned, not wanting the Master to think that this was in any way a permanent situation.

"But Doctor-"

"I've never chosen my own company!" bellowed the Doctor. "Nyssa, it was you who contacted me and begged me to help you find your father. Tegan, it's your own curiosity that got you into this. And Adric, a stowaway." The Doctor would never have admitted it out loud, but as much as he cared for his various traveling assistants over the years, he remembered a time when the Master would have been his preferred companion. Of course, not now. The Master had too much blood on his hands that he was unwilling to try to wash away. Perhaps if the Master showed any remorse for the evil things he did…but anyway.

At that moment, conveniently, the TARDIS reappeared. "Now I don't want any further argument. One, two, three, into the TARDIS," he said, rapidly pointing to each of his young ones.

Tegan and Nyssa clambered inside. Adric followed, but then turned and said to the Doctor, "Look, we want to help you-"

"It's impossible!" said the Doctor. "I'm collaborating with the Master. Now go on. Battle stations."

"But that man's a murderer!" Nyssa protested, but Adric pushed her along inside. "Come on, Nyssa," he said. "He means it."

The door to the TARDIS shut, and the Master extended his gloved hand to the Doctor. "Together?" he asked.

"One last hope," said the Doctor, reluctantly shaking the other man's hand.

 

-

 

Jack was dead, Linda-with-a-Y was dead, and Sam…well, Sam was safe. Somewhere on that dismal planet below, Sam's remains were buried miles under the dirt. He died some 200,000 years ago, probably in his sleep. A peaceful death-the one adventure the Doctor could never have.

But now, he could focus on performing the one last heroic act of his life. His last service to the universe-wiping out the Daleks, once and for all.

"Hail the Doctor, the great Exterminator!" taunted the Emperor.

"I'll do it!" roared the Doctor.

"Then prove yourself, Doctor. What are you? Coward? Or killer?"

The Doctor swallowed and gripped the handle of the Delta Wave, preparing to end it all.

But then an image came to him.

Sam was standing there, looking at him, extremely disappointed, in between him and the Emperor, in the center of all those Daleks, unflinching and unafraid.

"I won't let you do this," he said sternly.

The Doctor's clinched face muscles relaxed, and he let go of the control. "Coward," he whispered. "Any day."

Sam smiled proudly at him and vanished.

"Mankind will be harvested because of your weakness," said the Emperor.

"And what about me?" questioned the Doctor. "Am I becoming one of your angels?"

"You are the heathen. You will be exterminated!"

"Maybe it's time," he said.

He shut his eyes. If death was coming, let it come now. The way the Doctor saw it, either way, he would have lost. But at least this way, he lost in a manner that let him keep his morals. Maybe he really was the Doctor again.

"Alert! TARDIS materializing!" blared one of the Daleks.

The Doctor's eyes popped open. Over his shoulder, he could hear the familiar wheezing, groaning of his beloved blue box. He whirled around.

Sure enough, the TARDIS was fading in, its light flashing. It had returned. But how?!

"You will not escape!" cried the Emperor.

The doors opened, and the Doctor had to cover his eyes because he was temporarily blinded by a bright golden aura radiating from its interior. And standing right in its epicenter, in his ratty jeans, flannel shirt, and black hoodie…was Sam.

The Doctor stumbled backward as Sam ambled somewhat majestically out of the box, attended by long, swirling tendrils of golden light. The Doctor looked up at Sam in horror. He almost didn't recognize him.

Sam's facial expression was glazed over, and his eyes were emanating that same yellow energy as the TARDIS. "What have you done?" gasped the Doctor.

"I looked into the TARDIS…and the TARDIS looked into me," answered Sam in a voice that was not his own.

The Doctor's hearts dropped as he realized what had happened. "You looked into the Time Vortex! Sam, no one's meant to see that!"

"This is the abomination!" exclaimed the Emperor.

"Exterminate!" cried a Dalek, and fired at Sam, who simply put up a hand and deflected the beam. It bounced back harmlessly to its owner.

"I am the Bad Wolf," said Sam hazily. "I create myself. I take the words. I scatter them in time and space…"

The Doctor watched as Sam raised the same hand and waved it. The letters on the sign looking over the whole operation flew off of their placard and danced in the air. "A message to bring myself here," whispered Sam.

"Sam, you've got to stop this! You've got to stop this now!" pleaded the Doctor. "You've got the entire Vortex running through your head! You're gonna burn!"

"I want you safe, my dear Doctor," said Sam, his gaze falling to the Doctor, his golden eyes piercing into him. The Doctor swallowed. "Protected from the false god."

"You cannot harm me. I am immortal!" proclaimed the Emperor.

"You are tiny," declared Sam, glaring fiercely up at the great Dalek, looking more and more the defiant god. "I can see the whole of time and space, every atom of your existence, and I divide them." His golden eyes flared even more prominent.

He raised his hand once more, and slowly, one by one, the Daleks began to disintegrate into golden particles. "Everything must come to dust," said Sam. "All things. Everything dies."

A milky tear rolled down Sam's cheek and left a yellow streak there. "The Time War ends," he declared.

"I will not die," protested the Emperor, pounding his tentacles against the glass frustratedly. "I CANNOT DIE!"

On the holo-screen, the Emperor erupted into dust, and as the rest of his ship, and the whole fleet, did too, the transmission cut off.

It was just the Doctor and the Bad Wolf now.

"Sam, you've done it, now stop," said the Doctor. "Just let go!"

"How can I let go of this?" asked Sam. "I bring life!"

"But this is wrong!" cried the Doctor. "You can't control life and death!"

"But I can." Sam looked at the Doctor, more gold tears staining his face. "The sun and the moon…the day and the night." He blinked. "But why do they hurt?"

"The power's gonna kill you and it's my fault!" exclaimed the Doctor, looking down at the ground in shame.

"I can see everything," whispered Sam. "All that is. All that was. All that ever could be."

The Doctor's eyes widened, and he stood up. "That's what I see," he said. "All the time! And doesn't it just drive you mad?!"

"My head!" croaked Sam.

"Come here," said the Doctor, taking his hand for what must have been, oh, the umpteenth time since he'd met the fantastic man. By now, it was tradition.

"It's killing me!" exclaimed Sam in anguish.

The Doctor smiled. "I think you need a Doctor."

And with that, he leaned in and did what he'd wanted to do for longer than he'd admit to himself: he kissed Sam.

The time energy leaked out through Sam's eyes into the Doctor's own body. When he felt that all of it was extracted, he broke off (okay, he may have lingered a smidge), and the other man fell limply into his arms.

The Doctor gently lowered Sam to the ground and turned to face the TARDIS. Oh, his beautiful machine, that had brought his Sam back to him. He inhaled deeply, and breathed out all of the energy, back into the TARDIS, where it belonged. And the doors gently swung shut.

The Doctor wavered a bit as he felt the after effects of the energy leaving him. He felt slightly weakened. He smiled down at the unconscious Sam, still lying on the ground. He knelt and stroked his face, brushing back a few strands of that somewhat scruffy light brown hair.

Then, he picked him up, carried him inside the TARDIS, and took off for the comforts of the Vortex.

 

-

 

The Master stared in horror as the Doctor lost his grip on the side of the tower, and his singular Trakenite heart dropped as the Doctor did too. Right to his end.

He watched as the Doctor's arms flailed helplessly, and that stupid scarf flapping about in the wind. He could hear the Doctor's surprised cry as he plummeted down, down, down, and hit the ground with a resounding thud.

The Master choked and ducked back into the station, stumbling back to his TARDIS, and materializing out of there as fast as he could. Then, when he was safe in the Time Vortex, he slowly sat down on the floor of his console room.

He'd done it. He'd actually done it. The act he'd been trying to commit for centuries…was finally achieved. He'd killed the Doctor.

Of course, the Doctor wasn't really dead. Not truly. He'd had to have regenerated by now, and now, some new man and his three young sidekicks were heading off to the TARDIS, to get back to doing what the Doctor did best-running.

But still…he had killed the Doctor. After all the empty threats, the one hearted gestures and half-baked schemes, the Doctor finally met his peril, and the Master was to blame.

The Master, in this new body that was not his, only had one heart. But in his mind, he still had two. Two hearts that had shriveled up and died that fateful day. The day Theta left Koschei. The only instances he'd felt something stir inside those two, dark, dead stones was the day he'd remet the Doctor, on Earth, after nearly a whole regeneration cycle was spent trying to catch up to him, and when he'd really thought the Doctor was going to stay with him, during their battle with the Axons.

But this sensation was nothing like that. The Master felt as though his heart and its imaginary brother were seized by an invisible fist and being squeezed at regular intervals, each taking their turn. Not hard enough to kill him, but severe enough to give him cause to clutch at his chest, as if he was being physically attacked. His lungs were constricting too, and he couldn't catch his breath.

"You killed him!" he heard a child's voice call out. "You killed our Theta! Oh, how could you?!"

"There is no Theta!" he cried out to nothing. "Theta is dead, and so are you. There is only the Doctor and the Master now. Cosmic enemies. The friendship we once had is far forgotten!"

The child wept. "You're a monster!" he wailed.

The Master struggled to his feet, the tail of his suit flailing elegantly as he did so. "This is irrelevant," he growled, stomping off to his bedroom to meditate. "I've finally done what I set out to do so many eons ago-to kill the Doctor. I should be rejoicing!"

But he wasn't.

 

-

 

Sam, to his surprise, awoke in the TARDIS. He was lying on the floor, and he could tell that the ship was in the Vortex.

And there, at the console, right where he belonged, was the Doctor. Leather jacket, gigantic ears and all.

"What happened?" Sam asked as he sat up.

"Don't you remember?" asked the Doctor casually, not even bothering to look up from the monitor.

Sam was utterly confused. He was of course relieved to see the Doctor again, and in one piece, but the last thing he remembered, the TARDIS's console had been pulled open, and a bright light…and…

"It's like…there was this singing," said Sam.

"That's right," said the Doctor cheerfully. "I sang a song and the Daleks ran away."

"I was in London…no, I was in the TARDIS…there was this light…I can't remember anything else," said Sam, shaking his head.

The Doctor was studying something on his console with a dark expression. "Oi…you alright, mate?" Sam asked tentatively.

The Doctor turned to him and smiled ruefully. "Sam Tyler. I was going to take you to so many places. Barcelona. Not the city Barcelona, the planet Barcelona. You'd love it. Fantastic place. They've got dogs there with no noses." He cracked up. "Imagine how many times a day you end up telling that joke, and it's still funny!"

"Then why can't we go?" asked Sam, shrugging.

"Maybe you will," said the Doctor. "And maybe I will…but not like this."

"You sure you're okay? You're not making any sense, mate," said Sam, picking himself up from the floor.

"I might never make sense again!" exclaimed the Doctor. "I might have two heads, or no head!" He laughed again. "Imagine me with no head! And don't say that's an improvement." Then his expression turned serious. "But it's a bit dodgy, this process. You never know where you're going to end up."

Then, all of a sudden, the Doctor convulsed, and his skin flashed with light. "Doctor!" cried Sam, rushing toward him.

"Stay away!" shouted the Doctor, clutching his midsection.

Sam took a small step back, but remained within arm's reach. "Doctor, tell me what's going on," he whispered.

"I absorbed all the energy from the Time Vortex, and no one's meant to do that," he strained, while somehow keeping that cheeky grin on his face. He looked at Sam, blue eyes crinkled at the corners. "Every cell in my body's dying," he said.

"C-can't you do something?" stammered Sam.

"Yeah. I'm doing it now," said the Doctor. "Time Lords have this little trick. Sort of a way of cheating death. Except…it means I'm gonna change. And I'm not going to see you again. Not like this. Not with this daft old face." He managed to drudge up a weak laugh. "And before I go-"

"No!" said Sam.

"Sam. Before I go, I just wanted to tell you…you were fantastic. Absolutely fantastic!"

Sam tried to smile.

"And you know what?" the Doctor continued. He gave Sam one last sassy grin. "So was I."

And then, he did it.

Regeneration…a complete new life cycle…

The Doctor's hands, head, any part of his body not covered in clothing erupted in fiery columns of orange and gold light. Sam had to shield his eyes, and watched in amazement as he witnessed the whole of the Doctor's physique shift-his legs and arms stretched; he grew slightly shorter and became more narrow. Then, the light died, and the Doctor threw his head forward, a displaced expression on his face.

Only…it was not the Doctor's face. Because it was not the Doctor.

It was a different man. He was leaner than the Doctor. He had a thin face, a sharp nose, shaggy brown hair, and big brown eyes to match. His skin was a bit paler, and had a light crop of freckles dotting his nose and high cheekbones. His neck was considerably scrawny too, and he had a prominent Adam's apple. But like the Doctor, this man was nonetheless handsome. But it wasn't the Doctor. The leather jacket and black jumper may have been the same, but it was a different man entirely.

The new man took a moment to gather his wits, then looked at Sam. "Hello," he said with an Estuary accent. "Okay-ooh."

The man clamped his mouth shut and behind closed lips, ran his tongue over his teeth. "New teeth," he muttered. "That's weird."

"So, where was I?" continued the man. "Oh, that's right-Barcelona!"

He grinned manically at Sam, who could only stare in shock.

Chapter Text

"Six PM," said the man, typing away at the keyboard on the console. He fiddled around with some of the controls. "Tuesday…October…5006…on the way to Barcelona!" The man stepped back from the controls and put his hands on his hips triumphantly.

Sam watched silently as this new person, this tall, skinny guy, mucked about in the Doctor's-his Doctor's-clothing, messing around with the controls of his Doctor's TARDIS.

"Now then," the new man said, turning to Sam. "What do I look like?...No, no, no-no-no-no-no…no! Don't tell me. Let's see…" He looked down, scrutinizing his own body. "Let's see…two legs, two arms, two hands…" He rotated his wrist slowly. "Slight weakness in the dorsal tubercle," he remarked. Then he reached up to his head and grabbed a handful of his own brown tresses. "Hair!" he exclaimed excitedly. "I'm not bald! Ooh, ooh, big hair," he said, scrunching it up into sort of a bedraggled faux-hawk. He gasped, inspecting the sides of his face. "Sideburns, I've got sideburns!" Then he grimaced slightly. "Ooh, really bad skin."

"Little bit thinner," said the man, patting his midsection. "That's weird. Give me time, I'll get used to it." Then his brown eyes widened and he looked up at Sam. "I have got…a mole. I can feel it…between my shoulder blades, there's a mole," he said, rolling his shoulders in a circle. He grinned and nodded slightly. "That's alright. Love the mole. Go on then, tell me…" He stood in front of Sam, modeling a little. "What do you think?"

 

-

 

When the Master saw the new Doctor for the first time, his hearts-heart-stood still a moment. His predecessor, the tall one with the brown curls and wild eyes, had been presentable enough, if only he weren't so cross. But this new incarnation was something to behold.

He was still tall, though as not tall as before. A more desirable height, closer to the Master's own. He was slim and sturdy, like an athlete (the Master wondered whether it were a happy accident that the Doctor choose an Earth cricketer's uniform as his new choice of wardrobe), and had broad shoulders. His hair was fairly straight, and blonde, and hung in chin-length golden curtains around his face. If it had been curly, the Master would have sworn he was looking at the Doctor as he had been in his first form…when he was just Theta Sigma.

But when the new Doctor turned around and looked him in the face for the first time, he knew it wasn't true. This form had more of a suntan than Theta, and his face was more ovular. The eyes were blue, but lighter and more icy that Theta's deep ocean azure. But still…this Doctor was…well. He was pretty, for want of a better word.

 

_

 

"Are you…you are…the Doctor?" Sam stammered slightly.

"Yeah. Of course I am," said the man, smiling confusedly.

"But…no, but…but you can't be him," said Sam.

"You saw me, I just changed, just like I told you I would," said the Doctor (or the man claiming to be him, at least). "Right in front of you."

"But…what did you-he-do? Where did…he…go?" asked Sam.

"Sam, it's me, I'm still here," said the Doctor. "I just look different, that's all. He was me, I am him."

"What did you do?" asked Sam. He felt like he was being very gullible, just taking this man at face value, but something was telling him to believe him.

 

-

 

"Drink," said the Master, finally speaking up, and this was when he saw this Doctor's face for the first time. "It's a simple, to promote healing sleep." He was lucky he was currently disguising his voice, for he was having trouble breathing.

The Master was masquerading as the Portreeve, an old man with a long white beard (facial hair always seemed to be part of his ensemble, no matter what name he took). He was wearing a long white robe, and was leaning on a walking stick. Even his voice was disguised. Though really, he probably needn't try so hard to conceal himself at this instant. The Doctor's regeneration had left him so confused, he couldn't even remember his own name.

The Doctor, unwary and complacent, not at all suspicious of his visitor's true identity, smiled brightly, blue eyes lighting up. The Master's stomach jumped. He had a very appealing smile. "You're the Portreeve," said the Doctor genially.

"Shh, past my bedtime," whispered the Master soothingly, keeping up appearances. "If they knew I was abroad, they would press me to this feast. For me, as for you, sir, sleep is sometimes better nourishment than good red meat. Please drink, sir."

The Master watched as the Doctor lifted the glass of valeriana to his rosy lips and drank, his Adam's apple gently bobbing. He licked his lips daintily with the tip of his pink tongue. The Master had to mentally pinch himself to keep from thinking completely obscene thoughts about that mouth. The Doctor winced slightly at the sharp concoction, then turned to the "Portreeve" and smiled again. Oh, that smile. "Yes, that is good," he said, showing bright white teeth.

 

-

 

"It's called regeneration," said the Doctor, putting his hands in the pockets of his predecessor's jacket, which now hung on him like a plastic bag. "It's a process we Time Lords go through due to our double hearts. Whenever we're in danger of dying, we can save ourselves. But it comes at a cost. Our cells literally burn up and heal at the same time. Our entire molecular structure rearranges. Every single, individual atom, every meticulous little electron-"

"Sorry, but shut up," said Sam, putting one hand up to silence the Doctor and one to rub his forehead. The drumbeat was acting up again.

"Sorry," said the Doctor. "Seems like I'm some what of a babbler this time around."

"I gotta be insane," said Sam, clenching his eyes shut and shaking his head. "But for some reason…I actually believe you."

"Sam, it's me, honestly, it's me," said the Doctor. "You're clever. I know you can figure it out."

"It's just…impossible…" said Sam, arguing with himself more with than the Doctor.

The Doctor smiled and stepped closer to Sam. "We've seen a lot of impossible things, Sam Tyler. Slitheen, Gelth, gas-mask zombies…is this really any less believable?"

Sam just shook his head. "I dunno, mate."

"Then how can I remember this?" The new Doctor cautiously took his hand. "Very first word I ever said to you. Trapped in that cellar…surrounded by shop window dummies, oh…such a long time ago…" He fixedly stared into Sam's eyes. "I took your hand…" -he gently squeezed it- "I said one word…just one word, I said…run."

 

-

 

"Excellent," said the Master, smiling too, so that the Doctor would continue to believe that he was under no threat. "Very soon," he said, "you'll find the Doctor."

"You overheard?" asked the Doctor, raising his eyebrows, and the Master found yet another feature that he had a strange fetish for. He was strangely stimulated by the motion of this Doctor's eyebrows. Was there nothing physically off-putting about this incarnation, the Master worried.

He remained composed. "I know these things," he answered enigmatically.

"Oh?" asked the Doctor, taking a seat on the bed innocently, without the remotest idea what the visualization of this blonde, attractive specimen sitting on the bed, so vulnerable, was doing to the Master right now, both physically and mentally. Oh, how the Master wanted to rip off this disguise right now, lunge at this tempting new Doctor, and-

"By the simplest of means," said the Master. "When you visit breakfast with me tomorrow, you will see the source of what my friends are pleased to call my great wisdom." The Master couldn't resist stepping close to the Doctor, who was looking up at him with baby blue eyes, completely trusting. "Now, sir, sleep."

 

-

 

"It…it really is you," said Sam slowly. "You're the Doctor."

The new Doctor grinned. It wasn't quite like the condescending smirk of his old self, but it was very nice. Warm, friendly, playful. Less burdened. "Hello," he said.

Sam suddenly realized that he and the Doctor were still holding hands, and he quickly let go.

The Doctor chuckled at this. "Same ol' Sam, eh? Same Sam, different Doctor, we just keep on running. And we never stopped, did we?" The Doctor danced over to the controls. "All across the universe! Running, running, running! And do you remember that one time we went to Hop? Do you remember hopping for our lives? Yeah? All that hopping?" He bounced on one foot to demonstrate. "Remember hopping for your life, yeah?" Then he stopped. "Oh, I am a babbler this time, aren't I, just can't seem to-"

"Shut up!"

"Yeah, that!"

"No, I meant…be quiet a moment, would you?" said Sam.

"Oh," said the Doctor, looking slightly deflated. "Sorry."

"Can you…I dunno…change back?" asked Sam.

"Do you want me too?"

"No," answered Sam, a little too quickly.

The Doctor smiled sneakily. "Oh. Handsome, am I?"

"No, I didn't say that," said Sam.

"You're blushing."

"Am not."

"Are too."

"Am not."

"Are too."

"Am not."

"Are too."

"Am not!"

"Are tluuuuuugh!" The Doctor suddenly spluttered and slurred like a rabid dog.

"Doctor?" said Sam.

"Flaaaaaaugh!" The Doctor doubled over, looking like he was going to be sick.

"Oh my God, Doctor!" Sam rushed over and instinctually put his arms around the man.

The Doctor looked up. "Uh oh," he croaked, then exhaled a small cloud of gold vapor.

"Doctor, what's happening?!" cried Sam.

The Doctor looked up at him, almost drunkenly. "The change…going a bit wrong...FLUUUUUUGH! FLAK!" He doubled over again.

"Look, look, maybe we should…" Sam was panicking. How do you fix a broken Time Lord? "…I dunno…maybe we should go back to Satellite Five, find somebody, find Jack maybe-"

"Ah, he's busy! Got plenty to do, rebuilding the Earth! I gotta get you-get you home!" He woozily began hitting buttons and flipping switches.

Suddenly, the TARDIS shuddered and Sam was thrown to the ground. "What are you doing?" he exclaimed, pulling himself up, with some difficulty.

"Putting on a bit of speed!" said the Doctor, punching a few more buttons. "That's it!…Come on, my beautiful ship, come on! Faster, atta girl!"

"Doctor, I think that's fast enough!" Sam cried as the TARDIS trembled again.

"You wanna go a little faster?" The Doctor asked him excitedly. "Wanna break the time limit?!"

"Stop it!" yelled Sam.

"Oh, don't be so dull, let's have a bit of fun!" The Doctor punched the air with his fist. "Let's rip through that vortex!...Regeneration's going wrong," he gasped. "Regeneration sickness…" He clenched his eyes shut and keeled over again. "Oh, my head!"

Then he sprang back up, bi-polar as an icecap. "FASTER, let's open those engines all the way!"

Suddenly an alarm sounded. "What's that?" cried Sam.

"It means we're crash landing!" cheered the Doctor, laughing maniacally.

"Well, do something!" cried Sam.

"Too late!" exclaimed the Doctor gleefully. "We're out of control!" He jumped out of pure excitement.

"You're gonna kill us!"

"Hold on tight, here we go!" He grinned at Sam. "Home sweet home!"

Sam stared at the new (handsome) face of the Doctor. Who was this mad man?!

 

-

 

The Doctor obediently lay back. "Yes," he said, and the Master could hear the drowsiness in his voice. "It has been a long journey. Tell me, Portreeve, off the record…will I find the Doctor here?"

The Master, who didn't think he could stand being in this room for much longer, had started to head for the door. But he turned back, and stared at the Doctor, lying defenselessly on the bed, practically begging for…

"Oh yes, Doctor," he said, turning away again. "Very soon."

"Good," yawned the Doctor, rolling to face the opposite wall, and offering the Master a very good view of…Damn it, man, keep your mind on the plan! he scolded himself.

"Good night, Doctor," said the Master, in such a hurry to get out of there, he slipped up and called the man by his name.

"Good night," replied the Doctor, still unsuspicious of either the Master's evil intent or his frustrating stray fantasies about the Doctor's new persona, and almost immediately dozed off to sleep.

Chapter Text

After a very bumpy landing, the Doctor threw open the TARDIS doors and looked outside. "Here we are then! London! Earth! The solar system! We did it!"

"Whoa, I think you need to just slow down, mate," said Sam, grabbing him by the shoulders.

The Doctor clung to Sam as if trying to retain his balance. "No, no, no, no, hold on. Wait there. I've got something to say." He breathed heavily, wracking his regeneration-fried brain. "There was something I had to tell you, something important. What was it? No, hold on, hold on. Hold on, sh-sh-sh-sh…oh!" He yelled into Sam's face. "I know!"

He gave a few short reedy laughs. "Merry Christmas!"

Then he collapsed, right into Sam's arms.

Sam gave a long, weary, drawn out sigh.

 

-

 

Luckily, this new Doctor was light and slender, not quite as thick and muscley as he'd been before (Sam was still trying to wrap his head around the whole regeneration thingy), so Sam managed to pick the Doctor up, like a fireman might hoist a person trapped in a burning building, and carry him to his seldom-used bedroom. The only problem was, his limbs were so long that his feet dragged the ground, and they bounced and banged against the stair steps. Oh, well. The Doctor could just deal with bruised ankles.

Luckily the TARDIS, who seemed willing to work with Sam if it was in the Doctor's best interest, brought the Doctor's bedroom closer to the console room than it would normally be. "Thank you," muttered Sam to her as he pushed the door open.

The TARDIS offered a grudging "you're welcome" vibration. Bad Wolf or no, she still didn't like him.

Once they got to the bedroom, Sam was faced with the interesting and potentially uncomfortable issue of the Doctor's clothing. Surely the Doctor would rest more easily if he shed the leather jacket of his previous self and donned something more suitable for a victim of illness, like pajamas-in fact, there were some that the TARDIS had helpfully laid out right there, sitting on the Doctor's bedside table.

Sam swallowed. Alright, he told himself. There is nothing…sexual about this. He's sick. He's passed out. And even if he wasn't, there still wouldn't be anything sexual about this, because you are straight.

Sam sighed and set to work.

The jacket came off easily enough. The shirt underneath proved to be a little troublesome, but luckily it was baggy, due to the Doctor's new lankiness. He noted that the Doctor had even more freckles on his chest, which despite being slim, still had well defined pectorals and abdominal muscles. He was thin, this Doctor, but not unfit.

He untied the Doctor's shoes and pulled off his socks. He blushed slightly as he undid the Doctor's belt buckle, unbuttoned and unzipped his trousers, and pulled them down to his ankles. Obviously, he left the man's underpants on. That would have really been gay.

He managed to ease the Doctor into the striped, cotton pajamas the TARDIS had provided and tucked the Doctor into bed. Unsure what to do now, Sam just shrugged, sat on the bed beside him, and turned on the TV. The TARDIS offered an inordinate amount of channels, but Sam opted for the local news. While watching, Sam discovered that outside the TARDIS, the date was December 24th. The Doctor hadn't just been deliriously babbling, it really was Christmas.

Sam was just catching up on real world events when the door of the bedroom opened suddenly. "Sam, I heard the TARDIS engines; did you find the Doctor? Is he o-"

Annie swung the door open and her eyes lighted upon Sam, sitting in bed next to another man. She surveyed the Doctor's clothes lying haphazardly all over the floor where Sam had left them.

"Oh my God," she groaned, pulling the door shut and quickly exiting.

"Annie, Annie, no!" exclaimed Sam, jumping up and running after her. He knew exactly what she was thinking.

 

-

 

"I like your Castrovalva, Portreeve. Very clever of them to have brought me here." said the Doctor delightfully over breakfast. His sound night of rest had revived him physically, though his mental capabilities were still hindered somewhat. If they weren't, the Master was sure he would have been recognized by now.

The Master smiled serenely beneath his snowy white beard. He had had to force himself not to stare avidly at the Doctor throughout the course of the meal, as the Doctor opened his pink lips to admit food, the bob of his Adam's apple when he swallowed. "I fear we must be a little dull, after the habitual excitements you describe," he said.

"Oh, the Ogrons and the Daleks and that," said the Doctor, waving his fork in a dainty manner. "No, no, I think it does us good to be reminded the universe isn't entirely peopled with nasty creatures out for themselves."

The Master coughed self-consciously.

At that moment, Shardovan and another villager entered, carrying numerous tombs. "The volumes you asked for, Portreeve."
"Ah, thank you Shardovan," said the Master, in his disguised decrepit old wise man voice. He waved his hand dismissively at the books lying at the end of the table. "I've finished with those."

The Master managed to get Shardovan to take the Doctor's meddlesome girls with him to the city library, and now, here he was again, alone with his Doctor, who had gotten up to inspect the tapestry hanging on the wall, concealing his Hadron Web, ironically encapsulating the man's very own boy companion, Adric.

The Doctor studied the dark green embroidered leaves and floral design with great appreciation. "Whoever did this certainly has a way with needle and thread," he remarked.

The Master smiled at this, thinking to himself that none of his greatest adversary's past identities would have had this sense of aestheticism. The most recent had not been one for stopping to smell the roses. He was too preoccupied with roaming the stars, flying off to the next adventure. This new Doctor, it seemed, was calmer, more stable. The kind of Time Lord one could settle down with, perhaps loom a few children…good grief, where had that come from?

The Master, shaking off those sudden domestic notions, raised his walking stick, which had a looking glass on the end of it, to his eye. "Remarkable, isn't it?"

The Doctor turned to look at the Master. "This device you mentioned..."

The Master was well aware of how close the other man was standing, the Doctor's arm pressed up against his side, as if they were old friends (well, they were, sort of). As the Doctor looked down at him, the Master could properly behold his new face. His skin was lightly dotted with freckles, if you looked close enough (which the Master certainly was not ), and his eyes were as blue and clear as water.

"It stands before you, Doctor," said the Master, averting his eyes from the Doctor's unintentionally magnetic gaze. "I've returned it to its state of yesterday, by way of demonstration."

They watched the Doctor's females follow Shardovan to the library via an image projected onto the tapestry, deriving from the Hadron Web behind it (not that the Doctor knew that). "Fascinating demonstration, Portreeve," said the Doctor. "How often do the pictures renew themselves?"

"Life here in the main is very slow and unremarkable," said the Master, lying through his teeth. "Life", as it were, on Castrovalva was merely a construct whipped up by the Master, aided by the considerably talented Alzarian. The city, its structure, even its citizens were his design. They could not even go to the lavatory unless the Master granted it. "Only an occasion, like your visit, disturbs the cycles enough to register on the tapestry."

"Some form of fast particle projection, I suppose," said the Doctor, still watching his companions on the tapestry. The Master tried not to feel jealous (Why wasn't the Doctor looking at him?).

"Our forebearers had many skills, now forgotten," said the Master dismissively.

"Indeed," agreed the other Time Lord, nodding and making his long golden hair swish about, evoking a warm feeling in the Master's blood.

"Oh, there's no doubt some complexity behind it, but in view of what you told me you had better avoid such things until you are restored," the Master said quickly, suspecting that if the Doctor was making academic reasonings, it would be no time at all before the man was back to his normal, chivalrous, self-righteous, universe-saving (all the traits he so despised and loved about him), Master-loathing self. The Master wanted to put that moment off as long as possible.

The tapestry showed an image from the previous day, of Tremas's daughter and the loud mouthed Australian struggling to carry the Doctor's Zero Cabinet to the citadel. "You know, I had no idea I was putting them to so much trouble," said the Doctor. "It's a very long way for three young people to carry me."

The Master's stomach did a flip flop. "Three, Doctor?" This was definitely a bad sign. If the Doctor recalled his boy companion, if he started asking questions…

"Yes," said the Doctor, nodding confusedly. He counted off on his fingers. "Er, Tegan…Nyssa and, er…Tegan."

The Master chuckled at this, despite his fear. It was…sweet, in a way.

The Doctor laughed at himself as well. His laugh was warm and rich, and like the rest of him, pure gold. "No, that's silly. Er, Nyssa, Tegan…and Nyssa. Nyssa…Tegan…you know, I'm sure there's someone missing…"

 

-

 

Sam managed to convince Annie that not only was the man in the bed the Doctor, but that he in no way had had sexual relations with him. "He's sick, Annie, I don't know with what, but he needs help."

"But how can he possibly be the Doctor?" Annie kept saying in disbelief.

Sam shrugged in equivalent bewilderment. "I dunno, he's a bloody alien. Who knows how his physiology works?"

"Well, what have you done to help him?"

"I told you, I just changed him into pajamas and put him to bed. Like I said, I don't know what the hell's wrong with him."

"Hold on," said Annie. "I need to go get something. Be right back."

Annie turned and left. Sam turned to watch the sleeping Doctor from the doorway. He looked so peaceful right now, but ragged too. Well, what could you expect, when every piece of DNA in your body had been ripped apart and put back together like Lego bricks?

Annie came back, a stethoscope in her hands. She handed it to Sam. "Here. I have to carry some medical equipment in my squad car just in case. Figured it might help."

"Thank you," said Sam, kissing the top of her head. He made his way over to the bed and sat down next to the Doctor.

"So…you saved him, then," said Annie.

"Yeah, suppose I did," said Sam, putting the ear pieces in.

"Suppose?"

"Well, see, the thing is, I can't really remember it all. I just-ah!" Sam suddenly gasped and ripped the ear pieces out of his ears, throwing the stethoscope across the bed. He clutched at his temples and clenched his eyes shut.

The sound of the Doctor's heartsbeats triggered an insurge of that all too familiar rhythm, that drumming. One-two-three-four. One-two-three-four.

"Sammy, what is it?!" exclaimed Annie in alarm, rushing over to him.

Sam stared at the unconscious Doctor. "Those beats…they're the same as…"

"As what?"

Sam blinked a few times and shook his head. "Nothing. Just…got a bit of a headache, that's all. Been a long day for me, you know. Daleks, regeneration, the whole Time Vortex running through yourmy head, really takes it out of you. Haven't got any Tylenol, have you?"

"No. Sorry," said Annie. "Got some aspirin."

"Nah, no good," said Sam. "Allergic. It's fine. I'll be alright."

"Okay," said Annie, clearly unsure. She collected the stethoscope from the side of the bed. "I think I better do the listening."

"You're the boss," said Sam, guiding her hand to one side of the Doctor's chest, then the other. "Both of them working?"

"I think so," said Annie. "He has two hearts?"

"Yeah," said Sam.

Annie scrutinized the sleeping body before her and looked up at Sam curiously. "Anything else he's got two of?"

Sam gave her a look and said, "I'm sure I don't know. Come on. Let's let him rest."

"Oh, by the way, do you know who won Prime Minister?" asked Annie as they walked down the hall, back to the console room.

"Harriet Jones, I expect," said Sam.

"Yeah, how did you know?"

"The Doctor told me. After we faced off against the Slitheen, the first time," replied Sam. "Said she led Britain's 'Golden Age'."

"Well, he was right," replied Annie. "Do you know she's provided better pay for the police department? I'm at least eighteen quid a week better off now. I keep telling people we've met her."

"Did more than that," laughed Sam. "Stopped World War Three with her. Saved the whole bloody planet with her. Ah, those were good times…" He shook his head. "Harriet Jones."

Sam had barely known the Doctor then. Had only been with him for about three days, relative time. He'd had his old face then.

"She's just launched this project, a space probe, about a week ago," said Annie. "They're calling it 'Guinevere One'. Lot of people are arguing it's a waste of money, but considering the problems we've had with outer space monsters before…" She shrugged. "And it's not like you and the Doctor are always around to fight them off."

"Yeah. But we got you," joked Sam, elbowing her. "Annie Cartwright, defender of the Earth. Has a nice ring to it, doesn't it?"

"You're an idiot," laughed Annie, kissing him on the cheek. "Come on. It's Christmas Eve, you're home, I'm off duty, and I want hot chocolate."

"I, er…" Sam patted his pockets. "I think I'm short, love."

Annie rolled her eyes. "What sort of date are you? Come on then, tightwad. Cocoa on me."

"We've only got five billion years till the shops close," added Sam, putting on his coat.

She cocked her head at him. "What?"

"Er…nothing. Inside joke. Let's go."

 

-

 

Outside, the snow was falling and the cool wind was whipping about, but not unpleasantly. Sam loved Christmas in London. It was one of the most special things about the city. But this year, he couldn't focus. He kept casting looks over his shoulder at the TARDIS.

"What if he's dying?" Sam muttered to himself.

Annie sighed. "Sorry, I know, I know," Sam apologized. "It's just-"

"Just let it be Christmas," Annie interrupted. "Can you do that? Just for a bit. You and me and Christmas. No Doctor, no bog monsters, no life or death."

"Okay," said Sam.

Annie smiled a bit. "Promise?"

Sam took the hand not holding hot chocolate and kissed it. "Yes," he promised.

But his promise was about to be broken.

"Oh, Sammy, look, it's the Santa band!" exclaimed Annie, pointing to a small troop of people dressed up as Father Christmases, red cloaks and rubber masks, playing trumpets.

Sam studied them. "Er…did it just get really cold to you?"

"No, why?" asked Annie, giving him a quizzical look.

"It's nothing, it's just that…I think they're staring at us," said Sam nervously.

All of a sudden, the band stopped playing. One raised his bugle and blew. A bright column of flame spurted out of his horn.

The people in the square screamed and immediately began to run. "Oh my God!" cried Annie, clutching Sam's arm.

"Come on, this way!" bellowed Sam, pulling her back the way they came.

"Where are we going?!"

"The TARDIS! We'll be safe in there! The assembled hoards of Genghis Khan couldn't get through those doors!"

Annie looked over her shoulder. "Sammy, they're following us!"

Sam gasped. "No, that's not it. It's the Doctor! That's who they want!"

"But he's sick!"

"I know!"

Annie clicked her tongue. "I can't believe it. I can't even get a bloody cuppa with you without getting attacked! What are those Santa things, anyway?"

"Dunno," said Sam, as they reached the TARDIS. He dug in his pocket and pulled out the key. "But whatever they are, they're after the Doctor-and us. I'll protect the Doctor. You go home, get yourself safe-"

"Are you kidding?!" squawked Annie. "The last time you told me that, you disappeared for a whole year! I'm not letting you out of my sight, Sam Tyler."

Sam groaned. That's what he was afraid of.

"Sammy?" said Annie suddenly. "What's that noise?"

"What noise?" But even as he asked, he heard a loud whirring, like helicopter blades or a blender. Whatever it was, it was coming from behind them.

They slowly turned around.

There, spinning like a great Christmas-y ball of death, was a yuletide evergreen, whizzing around and around so fast, its branches could slice anything in two.

And it was coming straight for them.

Chapter Text

The killer Christmas tree was looming closer and closer. Sam grabbed Annie's arm roughly. "Come on!" But Annie was frozen with terror.

Typical idiotic humans.

Shut up! Sam snapped back mentally. "Annie, come on, we've gotta go!"

"I'm going to get killed by a Christmas tree!" Annie wailed.

And then, the day was saved as behind them, the door of the TARDIS swung open and out popped the Doctor, sonic screwdriver in hand. He aimed it at the tree, and it promptly exploded, mere inches from their faces.

Annie, still staring at the tree with wide-eyed fear, was breathing hard, her chest heaving. Sam slowly turned around.

"Remote control," mused the Doctor, considering the smoldering remains of the tree. He slipped his screwdriver into the pocket of his dressing gown. "But who's controlling it?" he wondered aloud.

"You sod!" Sam tackled him in a fierce bear hug. "Bloody hell, I thought you were down for the count, mate!"

"Oomph!" The Doctor grunted under Sam's vicelike grip, but returned the hug. "Nice to see you too."

"Bloody brilliant to see you!" laughed Sam. "We were about to be shredded beef! Feeling any better?"

The Doctor patted the top of his head. "Oh, synapses still a bit…hmm. I need a word for that. Like 'wiggly waggly', oh no, that's not quite it-"

"What was that thing?" Annie exclaimed shrilly.

"Ah, hello, Anna!"

"I'm Annie!" she snapped.

"Right, sorry," said the Doctor sheepishly.

"Well, Doctor? What were they?" asked Sam. "You said something was controlling it?"

"Yeah, I did," said the Doctor. "And I'd be willing to guess that the ones controlling it are over there."

Sam and Annie followed the Doctor's gaze across the street, where the gang of Santa Clauses were lurking in a group, watching them.

"Oh no, them again," whimpered Annie, hiding behind Sam.

"Shh," he whispered.

The Doctor raised his sonic and pointed it at them. Even though they were all the way across the street, they seemed to cower away from the bright blue light and high-pitched frequency it omitted. Then, all of a sudden, the Santas glowed blue and disappeared.

"What did you do?" asked Sam, looking at the Doctor.

"Me? Nothing," said the Doctor, putting away his screwdriver. "Wherever they came from, they've just been called back."

"So that's the end of it, then?"

The Doctor looked up at the clear starry sky that blanketed over the empty London streets. "I wouldn't count on it. Those organisms were only pilot fish. Scouts, reconnaissance, a first wave. Precursors to a bigger threat. Ah!" The Doctor suddenly clutched at his head, as if he had a headache.

"Oh no, not again," fretted Sam, automatically supporting the Doctor as he slumped over.

"Woke up too soon," groaned the Doctor. "Still regenerating. I'm bursting with energy." With that, he exhaled another wisp of the strange golden smoke.

"What is that?!" gasped Annie, staring at the golden mist as it twisted and tangled in the cool night breeze and evaporated.

"Excess regeneration energy, it's why I changed," the Doctor explained quickly. "You see? The pilot fish could smell it a million miles away. So they eliminate the defense, that's you lot, and they carry me off. They could run their batteries on me for a couple of ow!" He winced as another wave of regeneration sickness panged through his head.

"Come on, Doctor," said Sam, escorting him back inside the TARDIS and back to his bedroom. "You need rest. If there's an alien attack on the way, we need you at max capacity. You're going back to bed."

"Argh!" cried the Doctor. "Brain collapsing!"

Then he fell over again.

Sam heaved a sigh. "Here we go again. Annie, get his feet, would you?"

 

-

 

"Sammy, he's getting worse," Annie fretted as she checked the Doctor over with the stethoscope. "He only has one heart beating now."

Sam stared at the sleeping man from the doorway of the bedroom sullenly. He was trying not to worry, to give up hope. This was the Doctor. He had to pull through. He couldn't just…just…

Annie gave him a sympathetic look. "It's okay. He'll be fine. I'm sure of it."

"Yeah. Yeah, of course," he muttered numbly.

Annie got up and patted him on the shoulder. "I'm going to go make some tea. Want some?"

"Sounds fine." He tried to smile at her.

Annie nodded and made for the kitchen, leaving Sam alone with the Doctor.

He ambled over to the bed and sat down on it beside him. The Doctor was breathing in and out, slowly, but evenly. Sam, without even thinking, took his hand and absently ran his fingers through the Doctor's new rich brown hair, which was hanging his face boyishly.

Sam stared at his peaceful face. "Please, Doctor," he whispered. "Please don't leave me."

He stayed like that until Annie came back about half an hour later, carrying two mugs of tea. "Thanks," said Sam, taking the mug but not drinking from it.

"No problem," she said, seating herself in the Doctor's armchair. "Merry Christmas, by the way."

Sam checked his watched. Four minutes past midnight. "Oh yeah. Merry Christmas."

"Oh look," said Annie, watching the muted TV, which Sam had forgotten to turn off earlier. "The photos from the Guinevere probe."

"Oh. Cool," said Sam, watching the screen with mild interest. When you've seen as much space as he had, a few grainy probe pictures were just sort of small time, he supposed.

"Funny sort of rocks," commented Annie, looking at an image the probe had sent from Mars.

Sam stood up, setting the mug of tea on the nightstand beside the Doctor, also watching the feed. "That's not rocks," he said slowly.

The "rock" was actually an ugly looking, red eyed alien beast, wearing a skull like mask. It was growling at the camera ominously.

"This image is being transmitted via mission control, coming live from the depths of space on Christmas morning," said the newscaster on TV cheerfully, apparently not grasping the seriousness of the situation. "The face of an alien life form was transmitted live tonight on BBC1. On the 25th of December, the human race has been shown absolute proof that alien life exists."

"Sam," whispered Annie softly, coming up behind him. "What is that?"

"I don't know," he replied, his eyes transfixed on the screen.

"Is it…is it what's coming? Is it what the Doctor said?"

"I don't know."

"But what's coming for?" asked Annie. "The Doctor?"

"I don't know," Sam said for the third time. He cast a look back at the unconscious man in the bed. "Maybe it's coming for all of us."

He looked back at the alien on the screen. "That's funny," he said.

"What?" asked Annie.

"I don't understand what they're saying," said Sam. "The TARDIS translates alien languages inside my head, all the time, wherever I am."

"So, why isn't it doing it now?"

"Dunno. Must be the Doctor. Like he's part of the circuit, and he's…he's broken." Sam swallowed hard.

"Despite claims of an alien hoax, it's been reported that NATO forces are on red alert," continued the newscaster. Then, he added, "Speaking strictly off the record, government sources are calling this our longest night."

"Something's not right," said Sam. "Those creatures are very, very wrong. Don't ask me how I know, I just do." He crossed the room and sat down in the armchair. He stared despondently at the dozing Time Lord. "The Doctor wouldn't do this. The old Doctor. The proper Doctor. He'd wake up. He'd save us."

Annie stared at Sam in concern. "You really love him, don't you?" she whispered.

Sam said nothing.

 

-

 

It was indeed the longest night.

Annie forced Sam to go to bed (with all the trouble with Satellite Five and the Daleks, and now this, it must have been days since he slept properly), telling him she'd stay up with the Doctor.

If he hadn't been so dead on his feet, he would never have been able to sleep. Not with the Doctor literally on his death bed in the next room. But finally, he succumbed to thankfully peaceful, dreamless sleep.

Hours later, he awoke to Annie fervently shaking his shoulder. "Sam! Sammy, it's a nightmare!"

"What time is it?" he yawned.

"Bout six thirty, oh, Sammy, the people outside, they're like zombies!"

"What?" asked Sam.

"Oh, just come on."

Annie tugged him out of bed and brought him back to the Doctor's room, where the news was still playing. The television showed footage of whole crowds of people standing the edges of roofs, almost like they were ready to jump.

"What are they doing?" asked Sam.

"No one knows!" fretted Annie. "According to the news, none of them are responsive at all. They're just like zombies! Oh, Sam, what do we do?"

"Nothing," said Sam darkly. He looked at the Doctor, who was still passed out in bed. "There's no one to save us. Not anymore."

All of a sudden, the scene on the television changed. San and Annie watched as a familiar woman sitting at a desk prepared to address the nation.

"Ladies and gentlemen," said Prime Minister Harriet Jones. "If I may take a moment during this terrible time. It's hardly the Queen's speech. I'm afraid that's been cancelled." She looked off screen and said, "Did we ask about the royal family?...Oh. They're on the roof." She turned back to the camera. "But, ladies and gentlemen, this crisis is unique, and I'm afraid to say, it might get much worse. I would ask you all to remain calm. But I have one request.

"Doctor…if you're out there, we need you. I don't know what to do. If you can hear me, Doctor…if anyone knows the Doctor, if anyone can find him, the situation has never been more desperate. Help us. Please, Doctor. Help us." She turned her eyes to the sky and added, "God help us."

Chapter Text

Sam angrily switched off the television and threw the remote control across the room.

"Sam!" exclaimed Annie.

"He's gone, Annie!" Sam yelled. "He's not waking up! There's some gigantic alien spacecraft out there that's somehow going to kill one third of the earth's population, and the only one who can save us is…is…"

"We don't know that," said Annie gently, touching his arm. "He might be fine-"

"He's not fine!" Sam shouted. "Look at him! His heart stopped working! How long before the other one goes out too?"

The Doctor…he's left me…

Sam sat on the edge of the bed by the unconscious man. He stared at his peaceful face for a long time.

What would the Doctor do?

"Alright," said Sam slowly. "The Doctor's left us. And right now, there's a big bunch of aliens that want to kill us all. We've got no weapons, no plan, and no Doctor. But we have the TARDIS, and we have each other."

"Annie…we're gonna save the world."

 

-

 

"Do you know how to fly this thing?" asked Annie. They were standing in the console room, Sam standing over the controls.

"Er, yeah…sort of," said Sam.

"Well you did it before."

"Yeah, but that was different. I get the feeling that if I try that again, I'll rip the universe in half or something. I think if we-"

But suddenly there came a loud bleeping, and the monitor showed an odd pattern. The TARDIS was slightly shaking.

"Sammy, what are you doing?" asked Annie.

"I haven't touched anything!" exclaimed Sam, frantically looking over the controls. "But according to the coordinates, we're not in the same place. It's like something's moving it from the outside!"

Then, the shaking stopped as soon as it started.

"Where have we gone?" asked Annie. She made for the door.

"Ann, wait!" But Sam's warning was cut off by a loud shriek.

"Oh no," he groaned, racing after her.

Sam managed to pull the door shut just before he found a very long spear being pointed at his face. "Ah…hello," he said nervously.

The alien beast growled at him. He gestured with his spear for Sam to join Annie, Harriet Jones, and a bloke in a suit.

"Sam, Sam, I've got you. My Lord," said Harriet Jones, hugging him tightly. "Oh, my precious thing." Then she gasped. "The Doctor! Is he with you?"

Sam swallowed. "No ma'am. We're on our own."

The alien growled again. The suit guy looked at a small apparatus in his hand. It must have been some sort of translator, because he read off of it, "The male in black. He has the clever blue box. Therefore, he speaks for your planet."

"But he can't," said Harriet Jones.

"Oh, yes I can," replied Sam.

"With all due respect-"

"With all due respect, Prime Minister, the Doctor is gone. He's left us, which makes me the owner of the TARDIS, chief expert on alien diplomacy, and representative of this planet. Now stand down, Harriet Jones!"

Harriet Jones looked shocked, and so was Sam. Had he really just said all that?

Harriet Jones took a step back, and Sam slowly turned around. "Right. Listen, you lot. I address the-what do they call themselves?"

"The Sycorax," whispered Suit Guy helpfully.

"Right, the Sycorax. Er, listen…in ordinance with, uh..." Sam remember what the Doctor (the old one) had said to the Nestene Consciousness "…Article Fifteen of the Shadow Proclamation. You have invaded this planet with mal intent, and threatened its people. You have one opportunity to vacate this planet peacefully, or the planet Earth will take drastic measures."

There was silence as the Sycorax looked at each other, then they all began laughing.

"You are very, very funny," read Suit Guy. "And now you're going to die."

"No!" cried Annie.

The Sycorax let out a low chuckle. "Did you think you were clever with your stolen words?" Suit guy read off. "We are the Sycorax. We stride the darkness. Next to us you are but a wailing child. If you are the best your planet can offer as a champion-"

"Then your world will be gutted," growled the Sycorax.

"Then your world will be gutted," repeated Suit Guy.

"And your people enslaved."

Suit Guy stopped reading. "Hold on, that's English."

"He's talking English," said Harriet Jones, astounded.

"You're speaking English," said Sam.

"I would never dirty my tongue with your primitive bile," hissed the Sycorax.

"That's English," said Sam. "Can you hear English?"

"Yeah, that's English," agreed Annie.

"Definitely English," said Suit Guy.

"I speak only Sycoraxic!" insisted the beast, looking more and more furious.

"If I can hear English, then it's being translated," said Sam. "Which means the TARDIS is working again. Which means…"

All their heads turned at the small creak of the TARDIS doors opening. There stood the tall skinny man, in stripy pajamas and a navy blue bathrobe.

He grinned. "Did you miss me?"

"Doctor!" Sam couldn't help running over and pulling the man into a tight embrace.

"Ooh, careful, careful," laughed the Doctor.

The Sycorax roared and cracked a whip hanging on his belt at the skinny man, but the Doctor almost nonchalantly grabbed it and wrenched for the beast's hand. "Oi! You could have someone's eye out with that."

"How dare!" roared the Sycorax indignantly.

Another one tried to sneak up on the Doctor with a large club, but the Doctor caught it and broke the stick over his leg. "You just can't get the staff. Now, you," he said, pointing at the Sycorax, "just wait. I'm busy. Amy, hello!"

Annie sighed. "Annie, Doctor."

"Right, sorry, one of these days I'll get that right, I promise. And Harriet Jones, MP for Flydale North. Blimey, it's like This Is Your Life! And I don't think we've met, who are you?"

"My name is Alex," said the suit guy.

"Well, lovely to meet you, Alex," said the Doctor, shaking his hand.

"Doctor, how'd you wake up?" asked Sam, amazed.

"Tea!" exclaimed the Doctor. "Someone left a mug of tea by my bed."

"That was me," said Annie.

"Well, thank you, Annie!" He said, picking her up and spinning her around. "'Cause that's all I needed, a good cup of tea! Superheated infusion of free radicals and tannin. Just the thing for healing the synapses." The Doctor put her down and turned to Sam. "Now, first thing's first. Be honest…how do I look?"

"Er…different," said Sam.

"Good different or bad different?"

"Just…different."

"Am I…" The Doctor's voice lowered to a dramatic whisper. "Ginger?"

"What? Ginger? No, just sort of…brown."

"Aw, I wanted to be ginger," whined the Doctor. "I've never been ginger. And you, Sam Tyler, fat lot of good you were. You gave up on me." He paused. "Oh, that's rude," he said. "That's the sort of man I am now, am I? Rude. Rude and not ginger."

"I'm sorry, who is this?" Harriet Jones asked Sam. "Did you call him 'Doctor'?"

"Yeah."

"But…what, there's two of them? Or is it a title that's just passed on?"

"I'm him," said the Doctor. "I'm literally him. Same man, new face. Well, new everything."

"But you can't be," said Harriet Jones.

The Doctor smiled. "Harriet Jones. We were trapped in Downing Street and the one thing that scared you wasn't the aliens, it wasn't the war…it was the thought of your mother being on her own."

Harriet Jones's eyes went wide. "Oh, my God."

"Did you win the election?" asked the Doctor, almost conversationally.

Harriet Jones swallowed and whispered hoarsely, "Landslide majority."

"If I might interrupt," hissed the Sycorax impatiently.

"Yes, sorry," said the Doctor. "Hello, big fellow."

"Who exactly are you?" inquired the alien.

"Well, that's the question," replied the Doctor.

"I demand to know who you are!" roared the beast.

"I don't know!" The Doctor roared back, mockingly. "See, there's the thing. I'm the Doctor, but beyond that, I just don't know. I literally do not know who I am. It's all untested. Am I funny? Am I sarcastic? Sexy?"

He winked at Sam, who rolled his eyes.

"Right old misery?" continued the Doctor. "Life and soul? Right handed? Left handed? A gambler? A fighter? A coward? A traitor? A liar? A nervous wreck? I mean, judging by the evidence, I've certainly got a gob."

He danced across the room to a control panel. "And how am I going to react when I see this, a great big threatening button? A great big threatening button which must not be pressed under any circumstances, am I right? Let me guess. It's some sort of control matrix, hmm? Hold on, what's feeding it?"

The Doctor opened up a compartment near the bottom. "And what've we got here? Blood?" He stuck a finger inside and sampled the thick red liquid. "Yeah, definitely blood. Human blood. A positive, with just a dash of iron. Ah, but that means blood control. Blood control! Oh, I haven't seen blood control for years. You're controlling all the A positives. Which leaves us with a great big stinking problem. Because I really don't know who I am. I don't know when to stop. So if I see a great big threatening button which should never, ever, ever be pressed, then I just want to do this."

He smashed his hand down on the button.

"NO!" The four humans exclaimed.

"You killed them!" cried Alex.

"What do you think, big fellow?" said the Doctor, consulting the Sycorax. "Are they dead?"

"We allow them to live," said the Sycorax.

"Allow? You've no choice," said the Doctor. "I mean, that's all blood control is. A cheap bit of voodoo. Scares the pants off you, but that's as far as it goes. It's like hypnosis. You can hypnotize someone to walk like a chicken or sing like Elvis. You can't hypnotize them to death. Survival instinct's too strong."

"Blood control was just one form of conquest. I can summon the armada and take this world by force."

"Well, yeah, you could, yeah, you could do that, of course you could," agreed the Doctor. "But why? Look at these people. These human beings. Consider their potential. From the day they arrive on the planet and blinking step into the sun, there is more to see than can ever be seen. More to do than-no, hold on. Sorry, that's The Lion King. But the point still stands. Leave them alone!"

"Or what?"

"Or…" In one swift move, the Doctor grabbed a sword from one of the Sycorax standing aside and brandished it. "…I challenge you."

The Sycorax began laughing again.

"Oh, that struck a chord," said the Doctor. "Am I right that the sanctified rules of combat still apply?"

"You stand as this world's champion," said the Sycorax.

"Thank you," said the Doctor. "I've no idea who I am, but you just summed me up." He shed his dressing gown and tossed it to Sam. "So, you accept my challenge? Or are you just a cranak pel casacree salvak?"

Sam had no idea what the Doctor called the thing, but it must have been something pretty offensive, because it roared in indignation and unsheathed its own sword.

"For the planet?" it said.

"For the planet."

Chapter Text

Clang! Clash! Clack! Their swords crashed into each other wildly as they frantically fought.

"Watch out!" Annie cried as the Sycorax landed a blow at the Doctor's head.

The Doctor neatly sidestepped the attack. "Oh, yeah, that helps. Wouldn't have thought of that otherwise, thanks."

 

-

 

With a loud shout, the Doctor kicked the gun out of the Master's hand. With no hesitation, the Master grabbed up a fencing foil. The Doctor followed suit. "Like that, is it?" he said, easily deflecting the Master's strike and adding one of his own.

They fought and struggled. The Doctor backed up into a curtained doorway and disappeared. The Master fervently slashed at the fabric.

"I wouldn't do that if I were you," said the Doctor sneaking up behind him. "That's government property."

The Master lunged at his foe, pushing him back into his cell. The Doctor was pressed up against the table, their swords crossed between their faces. The Doctor pushed up, and somehow, knocked the Master's foil out of his hand. While holding the tip of his blade to the base of the Master's throat, he nonchalantly picked up the Master's sandwich from the table and took a bite of it. "I always find that violent exercise makes me hungry. Don't you agree?" he said.

"Then you'd better enjoy your meal, Doctor," glowered the Master. "Because it might be your last."

The Doctor looked almost amused by this. "Oh, you think so?"

He grinned slyly and tossed the Master's sword back to him, ready for more. They continued, the Master huffing, "You're good, Doctor, but you're not good enough!"

"Ah, but you haven't seen the quality of my footwork yet!" claimed the Doctor cheerfully, and with some fancy footwork, he managed to again disarm the Master, knock him over the table, and land him on the floor, where the Master stayed.

The Doctor looked down on him, holding both sabers, shaking his head and tsking at him. "How many times have I told you?" he gently admonished. "Violence will never get you anywhere."

As the Doctor turned, the Master slowly stood up, pulling his hidden knife out of his sleeve, and throwing it in the Doctor's direction. He missed by a mile of course, but then, he meant to.

 

-

 

The Doctor was skilled, but unfortunately, the Sycorax was better. The Doctor retreated up a tunnel leading to the outside. "Bit of fresh air?" said the Doctor. The Sycorax growled and had no choice but to follow him, as did Sam, Annie, Harriet Jones, Alex, and a few stray Sycoraxic soldiers.

They emerged in the early morning sunlight. Sam was suddenly very aware that they were all standing atop an alien spaceship, floating at least a mile over London. Sam had to force himself not to look over the edge. He wasn't much afraid of heights or anything, but if one did fall, well…it'd be a nasty drop.

The Sycorax had managed to shove the Doctor all the way over to the far edge of the ship. His sword sideswiped the Doctor's nose.

"Oi!" exclaimed Sam, making to come over there.

"Stay back!" yelled the Doctor. "Invalidate the challenge and he wins the planet!"

But the Doctor's momentary distraction allowed the Sycorax to knock the Doctor off his feet. Then, with one swift motion, the beast's blade sliced through the Doctor's arm, severing his right hand from the rest of his body.

"Doctor!" Sam cried in alarm.

The Doctor watched in silent surprise as his lost limb and sword fell to Earth. Then he looked at the Sycorax and said, slightly dazedly, "You cut my hand off."

"YAH! SYCORAX!" roared the battalion.

The Doctor painstakingly stood up, raising the stump of his arm. "And now I know what sort of man I am," he said. "I'm lucky. Because quite by chance I'm still within the first fifteen hours of my regeneration cycle, which means I've got just enough residual cellular energy to do this."

He grinned determinedly as, as if by magic, a new hand, identical to the previous one, regrew.

"Witchcraft," growled the Sycorax.

"Time Lord," the Doctor replied.

"Doctor!" cried Sam, tossing him another sword.

"Oh, so I'm still the Doctor, then?" said the Doctor, easily catching the blade and resuming his match with the monster.

"No arguments from me, mate!" Sam laughed.

"You want to know the best bit?" said the Doctor, smoothly avoiding a frontal blow to his face. "This new hand? It's a fightin' hand!"

 

-

 

They were preparing to throw Ranulf's cousin into the iron maiden (which was actually just the Master's TARDIS), but of course, the Doctor simply had to interfere, which was what the Master was counting on.

"Your Majesty," said the Doctor quickly.

"What, our demon? You too would beg for mercy?" inquired King John, or rather, the shape shifting robotic organism, Kamelion, another one of the Master's deceptions. The Master himself was masquerading as Sir Gilles Estram, a French knight and champion to the King. Estram-an anagram for 'Master'.

"Oh, indeed no, sire," replied the Doctor. "But surely such a fate is too mild. Would not boiling in oil be a more fitting end?"

"Ha!" exclaimed the false John. "It must be a decade, our champion, since we boiled in oil. We accept your counsel, O demon."

"I thank your Majesty, but I was not suggesting alternative retribution," said the Doctor coldly. "My interruption was provoked by shock."

"Shock?"

"Yes, I was quite shocked at Sir Gilles' monstrous lack of good taste," said the Doctor.

Ah, here was his chance. "Who dares to question my good taste?" said the Master.

"In my view, it is the worst possible taste to even think about following the King's quite remarkable performance," sneered the Doctor. "One just can't follow that."

"I am insulted!" The Master exclaimed. He took off his gauntlet and smacked the Doctor's chest with it. With resigned determination, the Doctor removed his camel coat and laid it out on the dining table. He borrowed a sword from Sir Ranulf and uttered some instructions to his companion, before arming and preparing himself for the match.

"Well, our Champion and our demon," said fake King John gleefully. "Have a care, Sir Gilles. Has our demon mortal life to lose?"

"I fear no hellhound," replied the Master.

"Then set to."

The two of them fenced valiantly, the Master giving powerful thrusts (isn't that just symbolic for something) while the Doctor gracefully parried and dodged. Their fight carried them up and down staircases, all over the dining hall, (the Doctor was even bent over the table at one point-the Master really enjoyed that) until finally, the Doctor got the upper hand and disarmed the Master.

"Bravo, our demon," cheered King John.

With a smirk, "Sir Gilles" whipped out his tissue compression eliminator. The Doctor's blue eyes flew open, immediately recognizing the instrument. The Master chuckled darkly at him as the TCE changed his outward appearance to his normal form.

"You escaped from Xeriphas," whispered the Doctor fearfully.

"Oh, my dear Doctor, you have been naive."

 

-

 

And with that, the Doctor disarmed the monster. He pointed the end of his sword at the Sycorax's face, as it lay on the ground, toward the edge of the roof. "I win," the Doctor calmly declared.

"Then kill me," seethed the beast.

"I'll spare your life if you'll take this Champion's command," said the Doctor. "Leave this planet, and never return. What do you say?"

The Sycorax grudgingly nodded. "Yes," it hissed.

"Swear on the blood of your species," the Doctor insisted.

"I swear."

"There we are, then," said the Doctor, letting up. "Thanks for that. Cheers, big fellow."

"Bravo!" cried Harriet Jones happily.

"That says it all. Bravo!" laughed Sam.

The Doctor chuckled. "Ah, not bad for a man in his jim-jams."

As the others shook the Doctor's (new) hand, congratulating him, Sam spied the Sycorax getting to his feet. He glared at the Doctor's back, and raised his sword.

"No!" yelled Sam, grabbing a rock from the ground and hurling it at the monster. It fell backward in surprise and toppled off the edge of the ship, just like the Doctor's hand, all the way to his death.

Sam turned to look at the Doctor. "Er…I'm sorry. I just-he was about to-"

"It's alright," said the Doctor, coming over and putting a hand on his shoulder. "You saved my life. Again. Thank you, Sam."

The Doctor looked over the edge where the beast had fallen.

"No second chances. I'm that sort of man."

The Doctor led them all back inside the ship. He stood in the middle of the arena, surveying all the troops. He opened his mouth and said to them all in a loud, commanding tone, "By the ancient rites of combat, I forbid you to scavenge here for the rest of time. And when go you back to the stars and tell others of this planet…when you tell them of its riches, its people, its potential…when you talk of the Earth…then make sure that you tell them this:

"It. Is. Defended."

On that note, the party and the TARDIS were teleported back to Earth.

Chapter Text

They materialized exactly where they had been before. "We're home! You did it, oh, you clever boys!" exclaimed Annie, pulling Sam, and then surprisingly, the Doctor, into a hug.

There was a great roar overhead as the spaceship began distancing itself from Earth. "Yeah! And-and don't come back!" Sam yelled after it, feeling a bit foolish.

Harriet Jones smiled warmly at the tall skinny man in his pajamas. "My Doctor."

"Prime Minister," said the Doctor, smiling equally warmly, and they hugged too.

"Absolutely the same man," Harriet Jones remarked. She turned a worried eye to the sky. "Are there many more out there?"

"Oh, not just Sycorax," said the Doctor, nodding. "Hundreds of species. Thousands of them. And the human race is drawing attention to itself. Every day you're sending out probes and messages and signals. This planet's so noisy. You're getting noticed more and more. You'd better get used to it."

"It's alright though," said Sam, coming up to his side. "Because they better remember-this planet's got us."

"The Doctor and Sam Tyler," said the Doctor, grinning. "I can't think of a better team."

"Batman and Robin?" suggested Sam. "Sherlock and Watson?"

"Nah," said the Doctor. "You and me."

Sam laughed. "Well, I'm your man, Doctor."

"That's what I'm afraid of," interrupted Annie, teasingly.

"Oi, you-!" But Sam's threat or denial was cut off by a loud noise. They watched in confusion as a large green beam was shot from somewhere in London at the sky. The laser collided with the Sycoraxic ship-and destroyed it.

"What…was that?" asked Annie slowly.

"That," answered the Doctor, whirling around to glare at Harriet Jones, "was murder."

"That was defense," replied Harriet Jones. "It's adapted from alien technology, a ship that fell to Earth ten years ago."

"But they were leaving."

"You said yourself, Doctor: they'd go back to the stars and tell others about the Earth. I'm sorry, Doctor, but you're not here all the time. You come and go. It happened today. People were murdered, right in front of me, while you were sleeping. In which case we have to defend ourselves."

"'Britain's Golden Age'," said the Doctor scornfully.

"It comes with a price," said Harriet Jones.

The Doctor swallowed angrily. "I gave them the wrong warning. I should've told them to run as fast as they can. Run and hide, because the monsters are coming. The human race."

"Those are the people I represent," said Harriet Jones. "I did it on their behalf."

"Then I should have stopped you."

"What does that make you, Doctor?" retorted the Prime Minister coldly. "Another alien threat?"

"Don't challenge me, Harriet Jones!" snarled the Doctor, raising his voice, and Sam suddenly saw shades of his old self-the Oncoming Storm. "Because I am a completely new man! I could bring down your government with a single word."

"You're the most remarkable man I've ever met," admitted Harriet Jones. "But I don't think you're quite capable of that."

The Doctor paused and considered that. "No, you're right. Not a single word. Just six."

"I don't think so."

"Six words."

"Stop it!" exclaimed Harriet Jones.

"Six," the Doctor said one more time.

Then he went over to Alex and whispered those deadly six words in his ear.

Then he calmly walked away, Sam and Annie in tow, Harriet Jones crying desperately after him.

"What did you say?" asked Sam.

"Like I said. Six words."

 

-

 

Sam decided that since the night before had been cut short what with flaming Santas, fainting Doctors, and killer trees, he owed Annie Christmas. So, they stuck around for the rest of the day. Well, Sam was around. The Doctor stayed cooped up in the TARDIS until late that night, when he came back out. He had changed out of the pinstripy pajamas and into an equally pinstripy brown suit, light blue undershirt, and darker blue tie adorned with embroidered brown flowers. He'd topped off the look with a pair of rice colored Converse and a long beige trenchcoat.

"Well?" said the Doctor, coming in from the cold and modeling his new outfit for the two of them. "Is it me?"

"Well, it's…stripy?" said Annie unsurely.

"What do you think?" the Doctor asked, turning to Sam.

Sam considered the ensemble. Brown did seem to be this Doctor's color, and the bits of blue set it off nicely. The long overcoat and vertical stripes made the tall skinny Doctor appear even more tall and skinny. Still, it looked good on him, nevertheless.

"I like it," Sam finally decided.

"Good, 'cause you're stuck with it either way," the Doctor grinned.

"Ooh, look, it's starting to snow!" cried Annie, looking out the window. She pulled on her jacket and headed out the door. "Come on, fellows!" she called to them.

The two men followed behind her and gazed up at the starry sky, which was delivering little white flakes. Several bright flashes darted part.

"What are those, meteors?" asked Sam.

"No, it's the spaceship breaking up in the atmosphere," said the Doctor. "This isn't snow, it's ash."

Sam's face fell slightly. "Yeesh. You sure know how to put a damper on Christmas."

The Doctor laughed. "Sorry. This is a brand new planet Earth. No denying the existence of aliens now. Everyone saw it. Everything's new."

"What about us? What are we doing next?"

"We?" repeated the Doctor surprisedly.

"Oh, well…yeah." Sam looked at his toes. "I mean…if you'll still have me."

"Oh, no, I'd love you to come," said the Doctor quickly.

Sam smiled. "Okay. Yeah. That'd be great."

"You're never going to stay, are you?" sighed Annie, overhearing their conversation. "Well, I reckon you're mad, the pair of you. It's like you go looking for trouble."

"No other way to live, love," said Sam, grinning.

"Trouble's just the bits in between," added the Doctor. "It's all waiting out there, Annie, and it's brand new to me. All those planets, and creatures and horizons. I haven't seen them yet! Not with these eyes. And it is gonna be," he turned to Sam and grinned, "fantastic."

Sam laughed and shook his head. "So, where are we going first?"

"Er, that way," said the Doctor, pointing to the sky. "No, hold on…that way."

"That way?" asked Sam, pointing in the same direction.

"Mm-hmm." The Doctor and Sam gazed up at the sky, and then grinned at each other.

 

-

 

The Master stared greedily at the Zero Cabinet laying on the table before him. "I have you in my power absolutely," he hissed with pleasure, "But I will see your face before I destroy you forever!"

As he frantically tried to pry the Cabinet open with a fire poker, Mergrave and Ruther slowly approached him. "Well?" demanded the Master. "Well, speak! I gave you tongues."

"You are not the Portreeve," stated Mergrave confusedly.

"Someone's been tampering with your perception threshold," said the Master.

"You are not the Portreeve," accused Ruther. "I believe the visitor." He pointed to the tapestry behind the Master.

The Master whirled around. The Doctor's new, charming face was watching him from the center of the tapestry.

"A trick! The Doctor's here!" insisted the Master, continuing to claw at the Cabinet.

"Are you sure of that, Master?" asked the Doctor, ever the voice of challenge and reason.

The Master smoldered. "Enough of your deceptions!"

The Master pushed the Cabinet off of the table and to the floor where it broke into pieces. But where the Master expected to see blonde and beige, helpless Doctor, he only found…books. Tons and tons of books. The very books he'd given the Doctor to read as the Portreeve.

The Master howled with rage. "Where are you? I'll fetch you out, wherever you are!"

"The tapestry, look!" cried Nyssa of Traken suddenly.

As the Doctor came rushing down the stairs into the room, the tapestry betrayed the Master and revealed the Doctor's boy companion, Adric, strung up in the his Hadron web.

As the Doctor began to approach, Tegan said warningly, "But Doctor, it's-"

"I know, I know," said the Doctor. "Stay back." He observed the web and said to the Master, "So that's how you're sustaining Castrovalva."

"My own adaptation of the block transfer computation," said the Master, not resisting the chance to show off. "Since we last met, Adric's mathematical powers have been put to lively use."

"Deadly, you mean," said the Doctor.

The Master smiled wickedly. "That, too. You were wise to deter your young friends from approaching. The Hadron power lines are lethal to the touch."

"All right, Master," said the Doctor slowly. "It's me you want."

(The Master mentally face-palmed at the Doctor's all-too-convenient choice of words.)

"Let the boy go," ordered the Doctor.

The Master laughed triumphantly. "Yes, a trap has now been sprung. We can begin to dispose of all the bait."

At that moment, Ruther picked up the Master's abandoned fire iron and raised it to strike the Master. The Master made him disappear. "There was no call for that," said the Doctor.

"I populated Castrovalva. I will dispose of these creatures as I choose," said the Master flippantly. "Well, Doctor?"

Suddenly, they all caught sight of Shardovan standing in the rafters, preparing to swing down on the chandelier. "Shardovan, get back!" cried the Doctor.

"Don't touch the web!" ordered the Master. "It's holding Castrovalva in balance. You do not have the will!"

"You made us, man of evil," declared Shardovan. "But we are free."

"My web!" cried the Master in desperation as Shardovan swung across the room, into his intricate apparatus and freed the boy. "My web!"

As the Doctor leapt into the wall to rescue Adric, the Master rushed into the grate of the great fireplace standing against the wall, which was actually his TARDIS in disguise. He quickly set the coordinates and got himself out of the collapsing world. As he stood at the controls, he fumed, furious that once again, he'd been thwarted. Then, gradually, an amused smiled formed beneath his whiskers, and he began to chuckle to himself.

His arch enemy was back.

 

-

 

On Christmas Day, at approximately 7:45 in the morning, in the tiny headset in his ear, the Minister of Defense heard the six words that would put him into power.

"Don't you think she looks tired?"

The Minister of Defense smiled wickedly.

"Thank you, Doctor."

Chapter Text

There were several things the Doctor was sure of. One: the square root of pi was approximately 1.77245385090552. Two: the Mondola people of Jaxaris 8 were highly allergic to Earth beets. Three: Beethoven had totally ripped off "Ode To Joy" after overhearing the Doctor absentmindedly humming it under his breath.

And four…Sam Tyler was kissing him.

-

"So where are we going?" Sam had asked as the Doctor and he had taken off in the TARDIS.

The Doctor grinned. "Further than we've ever gone before."

The TARDIS had materialized on a pleasant little patch of grass with a good view of a futuristic city. "It's the year five billion and twenty three," said the Doctor as Sam stared in amazement at the utopia before them. "We're in the galaxy M-87, and this?" He gestured to the scenery around them. "This is New Earth."

Sam was at a loss for words. That was good, that the Doctor could still amaze him. He liked that. He liked Sam's eagerness for exploration, which was only matched by his own. It was good to know someone like that again. "I'll never get used to this," said Sam, grinning like an idiot and not caring one little bit. "Never. Different ground beneath my feet!" He thumped his foot against the earth demonstratively. "Different sky…what's that smell?"

The Doctor bent down and plucked up a blade of the grass they were standing on and sampled it. "Applegrass," he said, offering some to Sam, who tried it too.

Sam laughed and put his hands in his pockets. "Man, this is great. Traveling, I mean. And the TARDIS. And…and you. Traveling with you…I love it."

Sam looked down at the ground bashfully as the Doctor smiled at him. "Me too," he said. He grabbed Sam's hand and pulled him along to the city. "Come on!"

Laughing, the two men raced each other to the city. "You cheat!" panted Sam, flopping down on the applegrass. "You've got respiratory bypass!"

"Time Lord's advantage," said the Doctor smugly, taking off his long trenchcoat and lying down beside him.

"Unfair advantage, you mean," pouted Sam, but he was smiling.

The Doctor laughed. "Have it your way then, sore loser. So, the year five billion, the sun expands, the Earth gets roasted."

"That was our first trip together," Sam reminded him.

"We had chips," the Doctor said.

"And fought a crazy flesh lady, don't forget that," Sam added.

"Yeah. So, anyway, planet gone, all rocks and dust, but the human race lives on, spread out across the stars. Soon as the Earth burns up, oh, they get all nostalgic, big revival movement. Then they find this place. Same size as the Earth, same air, same orbit, lovely! Call goes out, the humans move in."

"What's the city called?" Sam asked.

"New New York."

"Oh, come off it."

"It is!" insisted the Doctor. "It's the city of New New York! Strictly speaking, it's the 15th New York since the original, so that makes it New New New New New New New New New New New New New New York."

Sam laughed and shook his head.

"What?" asked the Doctor.

"You. You're so…different."

He smiled. "New New Doctor."

"But still the same, somehow. Like, getting a new case for an old phone. Same phone still. But anyway, can we go and visit New New York, so good they named it twice?" asked Sam, standing up.

"Well, I thought we might go there first." The Doctor pointed out a large white trapezoidal building parked on the other bank of the charming river they were sitting beside.

"Why? What is it?" asked Sam.

"Some sort of hospital," replied the Doctor. "Green moon on the side. That's the universal symbol for hospitals. I got this…" He pulled his ratty leather wallet out of the deep pockets of his coat and flipped it open. "A message on the psychic paper. Someone wants to see me."

The paper flashed, "Ward 26-please come."

"Hmm," said Sam. "And here I thought we were just sight seeing. Come on then."

The two men headed down the hill, laughing and joking. "So, you've never been here before?" Sam asked.

"Not to the hospital," replied the Doctor. "Don't much care for hospitals. Make me squeamish."

Sam snorted at this. "Bit rich, coming from you. 'Doctor' indeed."

"I can't help," whined the Doctor. "They give me the creeps."

"Very smart," said Sam as they walked through the doors. The hospital was clean, white, and futuristic. "Not exactly NHS," he added as an afterthought.

"No shop," commented the Doctor, looking around. "I like the little shop."

"So I thought this far in the future, they'd have cured everything," said Sam.

"The human race moves on, but so do the viruses. It's an ongoing war," the Doctor replied, making a beeline for the lift.

Sam followed, but caught sight of a passing nurse. "Er, Doctor? The nurses…they're, um…cats."

"Good hunting, Doctor?"

The Doctor whirled around. His enemy had snuck up on him. As usual, he was standing too close for comfort, and was leering (down, unfortunately) at him.

There came a sound of great disruption over the hills in the distance. "They're fighting again in the dead valley," commented the Master.

The Doctor felt the ground under his feet wobble. "It's breaking up," he said nervously.

"This planet's alive. The animals are part of the planet. When they fight each other, they trigger explosions," his enemy explained. "They hasten the planet's destruction."

"How long before it blows up?"

"Not long," answered the Master. "They've been fighting a long time."

The Doctor peered at him suspiciously. "Why did you bring me here?"

The Master looked unsettled (for the first time in a long time). "I need your help," he admitted.

"You're trapped," the Doctor realized. "You can't escape."

"Just so. It seems the creatures of this world can't take us away from here, they can only bring us to this place."

"Yes," said the Doctor, putting a finger to his lip. "They can only return home with their prey."

"I never thought of it quite that way," said the Master, looking somewhat impressed.

"But now that we're both trapped, what good is it to you?" the Doctor asked.

"You'll find a way out, Doctor. You must."

The Doctor narrowed his eyes at the other Time Lord. "Why should I help you?

The Master smiled craftily. "It's not just death we're all facing. This place bewitches you. If we stay here, we'll be like the people who built these." He wandered over to the stone ruins they were standing near. "They thought they could control the planet, the wilderness. They were the ones that bred the kitlings. Creatures with minds they could talk to, eyes they could see through the way I do. It only led to their corruption. We shall become like them."

The Master turned around to face the Doctor, who was shocked and a bit afraid. The Master's eyes had changed from stony grey to a sickly mustard yellow.

The Master grinned at the Doctor, demonstrating sharp canines. "We shall become animals," he purred.

In the distance, a kitling howled, then the other Cheetah people, and finally, the Master joined in as well, throwing his head back and letting out a great wail, just allowing the Doctor to slip away.

"Now, don't stare," ordered the Doctor gently. "Think what you look like to them, all…"

He gave Sam the once-over.

"…pink and brown and black," he finished. "That's where I'd put the shop! Right there!" He pointed to somewhere over Sam's shoulder, then turned and entered the lift. "Ward 26, please!"

"Oi, wait up, mate!" exclaimed Sam, dashing after him, but the lift doors shut in his face. "Oh, that's alright, there's another." Sam went into the other elevator, and the next time the Doctor saw him, he nearly had his face snogged off.

-

"Legend says that the Face of Boe has watched the universe grow old," Novice Hame told him. "There's all sorts of superstitions around him. One story says that just before his death, the Face of Boe will impart his great secret, that he will speak those words only to one like himself."

The Doctor smiled. "What does that mean?"

The feline nurse shook her head. "It's just a story."

"Tell me the rest."

Novice Hame cast a long look at the gigantic head in the jar. "It's said he'll talk to a wanderer. To the man without a home. The lonely god."

The Doctor's expression fell, and he turned away. He could guess who that "lonely god" was.

How the hell did the Face of Boe know him so well, away? They'd only met once, briefly, on Platform One.

The Doctor turned back. "Say, do you have a phone?"

-

"Sam, where are you?"

"Er…wotcha?" said Sam slowly over the phone.

The Doctor thought to himself that Sam sounded a little funny. But he ignored it. "Where've you been? How long does it take to get to Ward 26?" he asked.

"I'm on my way…govnah," he said.

Well, that was strange. Sam usually called him "mate". Whatever.

"You'll never guess," said the Doctor, grinning. "I'm with the Face of Boe. Remember him?"

Sam chuckled nervously. "Of course I do. That big ol'…Boe face."

Suddenly the Doctor heard excited chatter coming from the gurney of the Duke of Manhattan. "Er…I'd better go. See you in a minute."

He hung up and made his way over to a very hearty, happy, and healed looking Duke. "Didn't think I was going to make it!" cried the Duke jovially. He caught sight of the Doctor and pointed excitedly. "It's that man again! He's my good luck charm. Come in, don't be shy!"

"Any friendship expressed by the Duke of Manhattan does not constitute a form of legal contract," whispered the Duke's right hand bureaucrat to him.

"Winch me up. Up!" ordered the Duke. He beamed at the Doctor. "Look at me. No sign of infection!"

"Er…you had petrifold regression, right?" the Doctor said slowly, scrutinizing the Duke's healthy pallor.

"'Had' being the operative word. Past tense. Completely cured!"

"But that's impossible…"

-

Once Sam rejoined him, he frantically expressed to him all the amazing happenings in the hospital. "I need to find a terminal. I've got to see how they do this," said the Doctor, leading Sam down a corridor. "Because if they've got the best medicine in the world, then why is it such a secret?"

"I can't Adam and Eve it," answered Sam stiffly.

"What's-what's with the voice?" the Doctor asked confusedly.

Sam shrugged, in a very un-Samlike way. "Oh, I don't know. Just larking about New Earth. New me."

The Doctor chuckled. "Well, I can talk. New new Doctor."

Sam looked him over, very slowly, and the Doctor felt the sudden need to blush. Sam was practically undressing him with his eyes! "Mmm, aren't you just," Sam purred. Suddenly, he grabbed the Doctor, pulled him down, and pressed his lips up against his.

The Doctor froze, unsure what to do. Sam. Was. Kissing him!

Sam released the Doctor, looking very satisfied with himself. He let out an excited breath of air and vaguely pointed up the corridor. "T-terminal's this way."

Then he sauntered away, leaving the poor Doctor feeling very lost.

-

The Doctor of course thought this was strange behavior, but was too distracted by the mysterious problem at hand. It wasn't until they actually accessed intensive care, and found the infected people, that the Doctor realized something was wrong. Because Sam was all too apathetic about the whole thing.

"What have you done to Sam?" he demanded of Novice Hame.

"I don't know what you mean," said the cat.

"And I'm being very, very calm," said the Doctor through gritted teeth. "You want to be aware of that. Very, very calm. And the only reason I'm being so very, very calm is that the brain is a delicate thing. Whatever you've done to Sam's head, I want it reversed."

"We haven't done anything," insisted Novice Hame.

"I'm perfectly fine," drawled Sam.

"These people are dying, and Sam would care," said the Doctor. And plus, Sam doesn't kiss men.

Sam rolled his eyes. "Oh, all right, clever clogs." He pulled the Doctor's tie out and played with it. "Smarty pants." He drew up the knot, tightening it around the Doctor's neck non-threateningly. "Lady-killer," he hissed seductively.

"'Lady-killer?'" repeated the Doctor, bewildered. "What are you talking about? What's happened to you?"

"I knew something was going on in this hospital, but I needed this body and your mind to find it out," explained Sam (or whoever he was).

"Who are you?" demanded the Doctor.

Sam leaned in and breathed in his ear, "the last human."

The last human? The Doctor remembered back to another entity he'd encountered on Platform One, one who'd claimed that title. "Cassandra?!" the Doctor exclaimed.

"Wake up and smell the perfume." Cassandra took a vial out of the pocket of Sam's hoodie and spritzed its contents in the Doctor's face. And that was the last thing the Doctor remembered before everything went black.

-

The Doctor woke up inside one of the storage containments that kept the flesh locked in. He watched as Cassandra in Sam's body tried to blackmail the Sisters, but one thing led to another, and of course, all the flesh ended up escaping.

The Doctor and Cassandra were forced to run. They managed to make it down to Cassandra's holding area, the place where she'd been dwelling. "We're trapped!" cried Cassandra desperately. "What am I going to do?!"

"Well, for starters," said the Doctor, "you're going to leave that body. That psycho-graft is banned on every civilized planet. You're compressing Sam to death!"

"But I've got nowhere to go," pouted Cassandra. "My original skin's dead."

"Not my problem," said the Doctor callously. "You can float as atoms in the air. Now, get out!" He whipped out his sonic screwdriver and pointed it at her. "Give him back to me."

Cassandra smiled wickedly. "You asked for it."

Cassandra opened Sam's mouth and exhaled pink energy, which the Doctor was forced to absorb.

"Blimey, my head!" exclaimed Sam as Cassandra possessed the Time Lord body. "Where'd she go?"

"Oh, my…" said the Doctor, smiling silkily. "This is different."

"Cassandra?" said Sam.

"Now this is a real man," said Cassandra, feeling up the Doctor's chest and abdomen. "Yum. So many parts. And hardly used. Oh, oh, two hearts! Oh, baby, I'm beating out a samba!" Cassandra made the Doctor dance around a bit in a jerky series of movements.

"Get out of him!" Sam exclaimed.

"Ooh, he's slim," commented Cassandra. "And a little bit foxy." She waggled her stolen eyebrows at Sam. "You've thought so too. I've been inside your jumbled up head. You've been looking. You like it."

"Do not!" shouted Sam. "For the love of God, I am not gay!"

At that moment, the diseased people burst in. Help us. Help us.

"What do we do? What would he do? The Doctor, what the hell would he do?" Cassandra squealed.

Sam and Cassandra dashed up a ladder, the infected not far behind. "If you get out of the Doctor's body, he can think of something!" Sam yelled.

"Yap, yap, yap. God, it was messed up inside your head. All those weird visions and what not-"

"We're going to die! Now is not the time to psychoanalyze me!" Sam exclaimed.

The infected were right behind them. They'd climbed to the top and reached the lift door, but it wouldn't open. "Use the sonic screwdriver!" Sam shouted.

"You mean this thing?" Cassandra pulled the screwdriver out of the Doctor's pocket.

"Yes, I mean that thing!"

"Well, I don't know how. That Doctor's hidden away all his thoughts," whined Cassandra.

Sam groaned in frustration. "Cassandra, go back into me. The Doctor can open it. Do it!"

Cassandra sighed. "Hold on tight." She transferred her energy again.

"Oh, great. Mental again," groaned Cassandra out of Sam's mouth. "Open it!"

"Not till you get out of him," said the Doctor.

"We need the Doctor!"

"I order you to leave him!"

Cassandra swapped back again. "No matter how difficult the situation, there is no need to shout," she huffed.

"Cassandra, get out of him!" exclaimed Sam.

"But I can't go into you, he simply refuses, he's so rude."

"I don't care, just do something!"

Cassandra grimaced. "Oh, I am so going to regret this."

Cassandra transferred her pink energy to one of the infected below. "Oh, sweet Lord. I look disgusting," gasped Cassandra, aghast as she stared at her current skin.

The Doctor opened the lift doors, jumped through, and helped Sam through them. "Nice to have you back," said the Doctor.

"You too, mate."

"Oh no, you don't!" Cassandra exhaled one more time and reentered Sam just before the lift doors re-closed.

"That was your last warning, Cassandra!" yelled the Doctor angrily.

But Cassandra was sitting on the floor, in Sam's body, wide eyed. "Inside her head," she said shakily. "They're so alone. They keep reaching out, just to hold us. All their lives and they've never been touched."

The Doctor silently reached down and offered a hand to Cassandra. She took it and got to her feet.

Back in Ward 26, the Doctor devised a plan. He collected all the cures and medications and strapped them to his chest like some sort of nerdy Rambo. Then he dived back into the lift, clinging onto the elevator cable. "What do you think you're doing?" squawked Cassandra.

"I'm going down! Come on!"

Cassandra scoffed. "Not in a million years."

"I need another pair of hands," persuaded the Doctor. "What do you think? If you're so desperate to stay alive…" He grinned manically. "…why don't you live a little?"

Suddenly, a hoard of the infected burst in. Cassandra groaned and jumped in, straddling the Doctor's back.

"You're completely mad!" Cassandra exclaimed, then she giggled. "I can see why he likes you."

"Going down!"

"Good hunting?" Now it was the Doctor's turn to sneak up on the Master. The cheetah virus really must have addled his mind, for the rival Time Lord was attempting to lock pick his way into the Doctor's TARDIS.

"Yes," said the Master, observing that the Doctor was indeed alive and well. "It would have been too easy. It seems we must always meet again."

"They do say opposites attract."

The Master smirked. "But this is the end, Doctor. You see it." He was circling around the Doctor, slowly, menacingly. "It's a power. A power from that planet. It's growing within me. Are you frightened yet?"

"No," said the Doctor.

"You should be," grinned the Master, showing off those fantastic fangs. "You should be. It nearly beat me. Such a simple, brutal power. Just the power of tooth and claw. It nearly destroyed me, a Time Lord. But I won. I control that force, Doctor. And now, at last, I have the power to destroy you."

The Master lunged at the Doctor, clutching him by the throat, and the Doctor was knocked onto his back, the Master on top of him. They had teleported back to the dying cheetah planet.

"Welcome to my new home, Doctor!" cried the Master.

The long time enemies struggled with each other. The Master had the upper hand for a moment, but by now the virus was taking hold of his immune system, and he was weak. The Doctor managed to roll over, gain dominance, and overtake the Master. He picked up a skull lying nearby and prepared to bring it down upon the Master's head, finally killing him and ending a centuries-long dispute. His pulses were beating in his ears, the hunt pulsing through his veins, he could smell the blood on the wind-

Then he stopped. He looked down. There was the Master, Koschei, once his friend, once his…what was he doing?!

"What am I doing?" the Doctor asked himself aloud, tossing the skull aside. "I've got to stop. We've got to go!"

"You can't go," declared the Master underneath him. "Not this time."

"Yes, we can!" pleaded the Doctor.

"Escape to what? I don't choose to live as an animal!"

"If we fight, we'll destroy this planet," said the Doctor, gesturing to the environment around them, which was rapidly deteriorating. "We'll destroy ourselves!"

The Master apparently found strength, because he managed to knock the Doctor off of him. He wrapped his hand around the Doctor's neck, threatening to crush his wind pipe. "You should have killed me, Doctor."

The Doctor threw his hands up in one last attempt to make the Master see reason. "If we fight like animals, we'll die like animals!"

Then there was another flash, and the Doctor looked around him. He was back in Perivale. But no Master.

-

In the end, the Doctor managed to heal all the infected. "It's a new sub-species, Cassandra!" cried the Doctor joyously. "A brand new form of life. New humans! Look at them. Look! Grown by cats, kept in the dark, fed by tubes, but completely, completely alive! You can't deny them, because you helped create them. The human race just keeps on going, keeps on changing. Life will out! Ha!"

So, the infected were healed, and the Sisters were arrested by the NNYPD. Novice Hame gave the Doctor a long, sad look as she was escorted out.

Which reminded the Doctor: "The Face of Boe!"

He was the last left in the hospital. "You were supposed to be dying," said the Doctor, crouching before him.

"There are better things to do today," said the great creature, transmitting telepathically into their minds. "Dying can wait."

Cassandra muttered something under her breath about how she hated telepathy, but the Doctor shushed her. "I have grown tired of the universe, Doctor, but you have taught me to look at it anew," continued the Face.

"There are legends, you know," said the Doctor, "saying that you're millions of years old."

"Well now, that would be impossible." Was it the Doctor's imagination, or was there something sly in the Face's tone?

"Wouldn't it just," replied the Doctor, smiling. "I got the impression there was something you wanted to tell me."

"A great secret."

"So the legend says," said the Doctor.

The Face took on a casual tone. "It can wait."

"Oh, does it have to?" pouted the Doctor.

"We shall meet again, Doctor, for the third time, for the last time, and the truth shall be told. Until that day..."

And with that, the Face beamed away.

"That is enigmatic," the Doctor said to Cassandra. "That, that is, that is textbook enigmatic."

-

Then they got Cassandra all sorted out. "It hardly seems fair, does it?" said Sam as they went back inside the TARDIS. "I mean, she just…died."

"Everyone dies eventually," said the Doctor gently as he sent them into the Vortex.

"Yeah, but…not you," said Sam.

The Doctor chuckled softly. "No. Even I'll die, someday."

"Don't you dare," teased Sam.

"Okay, I won't then." The Doctor smiled. "So, where to next?"

"Well, actually, Doctor, I was hoping you could fill me in on what exactly happened today. I don't remember anything of when Cassandra was in my body."

"Oh, not much," said the Doctor, shrugging. "Just healed a legion of people, defeated some cat people, talked to the Face of Boe. You know, everyday life on the TARDIS."

"Oh, come on. There was something," persisted Sam.

"No, no, nothing," said the Doctor, beginning to walk out of the console room. Then he stopped. "Well…I tell you one thing. That Lady Cassandra…" He turned around and smirked devilishly at Sam. "She's surprisingly one hell of a kisser."

Then the Doctor waltzed out of the room.

"Wait. She kissed you? When? How?...Wait." Sam slowly felt his lips. "Doctor…what happened today?!"

Chapter Text

Sam came down the stairs in casual jeans, a cream colored button up with pastel pink stripes and the collar popped over a black leather jacket. "So, this alright?"

"Oh, yeah, you look great!" said the Doctor cheerfully. "Hey, is that my jacket?"

"Huh? Oh, yeah, suppose it is," said Sam. Without really thinking about it, he sniffed the interior of the jacket. It smelled like…well, it smelled leather, to be honest. But also like the Doctor. Earthy, slightly sweet (honey, maybe?), and something not quite human.

"Well, it looks good," admitted the Doctor. "Could be a look for you."

"Maybe," said Sam, shrugging. "In any event, it's better fitting than my old hoodie for 1979."

The Doctor grinned as the two men headed for the door. "1979. Hell of a year. China invades Vietnam. The Muppet movie. Love that film! Margaret Thatcher…ooh...Skylab falls to Earth, with a little help from me. Nearly took off my thumb, and I like my thumb, I need my thumb, I'm very attached to…"

The Doctor's statement trailed off he realized there was a musket pointed at his face. He and Sam had walked out of the TARDIS and straight into a platoon of soldier.

"…my thumb," said the Doctor quietly.

Sam swallowed nervously and tried to inconspicuously ease away from the rifle aimed at his own face.

The Doctor observed the soldiers' uniforms and model of gun. "1879. Same difference."

"Really? Again, mate?" Sam hissed.

"You will explain your presence!" barked the head of the battalion in a thick Scottish accent. Then he looked Sam over, with his old jeans, scruffy hair, and leather jacket. "And this ragamuffin's attire," he added.

"Oh, are we in Scotland?" the Doctor asked in a surprisingly good impression of a Scotsman.

"Oi, 'ragamuffin'?!" Sam spat.

"How can you be ignorant of that?" the officer inquired, choosing to ignore Sam.

"Oh, I'm, I'm dazed and confused," said the Doctor, continuing to use that silly and yet convincing fake accent. "I've been chasing this…" He gave Sam a look. "This hapless ruffian over hill and over dale. Isn't that right, yah…timorous beastie?"

"Uh, er, och, aye, I've been oot and aboot," said Sam awkwardly, poorly trying to imitate the Doctor.

"No, don't do that," the Doctor muttered to him in his real dialect.

"Hoots, mon?"

"No, really don't. Really," said the Doctor.

"Will you identify yourself, sir?" the officer asked.

"I'm Doctor…James McCrimmon," the Doctor declared. "From the…township of Balamory. Uh, I have my credentials, if I may?" The Doctor cautiously reached into his pocket and pulled out his psychic paper to show to the soldiers. "As you can see, a Doctorate from the University of Edinburgh. I trained under Dr. Bell himself."

"Let them approach," said a dainty, feminine voice. Sam looked around, but could see no woman. He figured it must have come from whoever was inside the carriage the convoy was accompanying.

"I don't think that's wise, ma'am," the officer called.

"Let them approach," the voice repeated, with a little more authority this time.

The officer seemed conflicted for a moment, then finally bade them, reluctantly, "You will approach the carriage…and show all due deference."

The Doctor and Sam looked at each other questioningly.

As they drew near the carriage, a footman opened the door of the coach to reveal a grand, older lady, in fancy (but serious) dress and elegant jewelry. She had the face one would put on a postage stamp.

Sam's mouth dropped open in undignified shock.

The Doctor grinned excitedly. "Sam," he said. "Might I introduce her Majesty Queen Victoria, Empress of India and Defender of the Faith."

"Er, Sam Tyler, your Majesty," said Sam, bowing deeply, still in utter shock. "And my apologies for being so informally dressed."

The Queen looked upon him impassively, but Sam thought he could detect a smile in her sagely blue eyes. "I've had three sons. It is nothing to me. But you, Doctor. Show me these credentials."

The Doctor gave her the psychic paper, which she studied. "Why didn't you say so immediately?" she asked, her eyebrows raised, which is just about as much surprise as a queen will show. "It states clearly here that you have been appointed by the Lord Provost as my Protector."

"Does it?" said the Doctor, taking his paper back and consulting it for himself. "Yes, it does. Good, good." He replaced the wallet in the inner pocket of his coat. "Then let me ask-why is your Majesty traveling by road when there's a train all the way to Aberdeen?"

"A tree on the line," the Queen replied.

"An accident?"

"I am the Queen of the United Kingdom of Britain and Ireland," said the woman. "Everything around me tends to be planned."

"Do you mean an assassination attempt?" Sam asked. "Who would want to kill you, mum?"

The Queen actually did smile at this. "I like this boy. And yes, I'm quite used to staring down the barrel of a gun."

"Well, not to worry. Me and the Doctor, we'll protect you as best we can," Sam said. "No one's going to lay a finger on you while we're around, I swear it."

"Sir Robert MacLeish lives but ten miles hence," said the commanding officer, breaking into the conversation. "We've sent word ahead. He'll shelter us for the night, then we can reach Balmoral tomorrow."

"This Doctor and his… 'timorous beastie' will come with us," the Queen said, nodding to the two men.

"Yes ma'am," said the officer. "We'd better get moving, it's almost nightfall."

"Indeed," agreed the Queen. "And there are stories are wolves in these parts. Fanciful tales to scare the children. But good for the blood, I think." She winked at the travelers mischievously. "Drive on!"

"Bloody hell," Sam whispered excitedly to the Doctor as the convoy started moving along the road again. "That was Queen VictoriaThe Queen Victoria!"

"I know, it's brilliant, isn't it?" the Doctor replied, nodding his head rapidly. "She favors you, I can tell."

"Where'd you get the name 'James McCrimmon'?" Sam asked. "Just a name off the top of your head?"

"Oh no, it was a friend of mine, oh, so long ago," said the Doctor. "My old friend Jamie. We were…fairly good friends." He rubbed the back of his neck. "But seriously, Queen Victoria!"

"I know! This is just as amazing as Charles Dickens!" Sam exclaimed. "We've got to meet historical figures more often. Let's go meet Shakespeare some time. That'd be brilliant, don't you think? Or Agatha Christie, she's a marvelous author!"

"Alright, alright!" the Doctor laughed. "You're not usually so boisterous. That's usually my job."

"I know, but it's all so fantastic, isn't it? Oh, Doctor, meeting you was definitely the best thing that ever happened to me."

The Doctor's face went mutely surprised. "Doctor?" Sam said. "What's wrong?"

"Nothing," said the Doctor, slightly stammering. "It's just…I was just thinking the same thing about you."

Sam went quiet. He looked down at his seventies-ish Doc Martins shyly.

The Doctor wondered if he should have said that. "Hey," he said, changing the subject. "Bet you five quid you can't get her to say 'we are not amused'."

Sam smiled, rolling his eyes. "I don't play your games, mate."

"Ten quid?"

"Done."

 

-

 

Sam had been kidnapped and dragged to the cellar underneath the manor, where he was manacled to several other members of the household and staff. They were all cowering from a hooded creature sitting in a cage on the other side of the room.

Except Sam. He wasn't afraid. "Who are you?" he asked it, creeping closer. "What are you? You're not of this earth. Listen, my friend, the Doctor, we can help you get back to wherever you're from, if you want."

"Why would I leave this place?" the creature said, blinking up at Sam with golf ball-sized black pupils, poking eerily out from his creamy skin. "A world of industry, of workforce, of warfare." He licked his lips hungrily. "I could turn it to such purpose."

"How would you do that?" Sam asked.

"I would migrate to the Holy Monarch."

Sam realized what that meant. "You want the Queen."

"With one bite, I would pass into her blood, and it would begin," hissed the creature with delight. "The Empire of the Wolf." He peered at Sam with those creepy black eyes. "Many questions…"

Without warning, he lurched forward, making the other prisoners gasp and jump with fright. But Sam remained calm.

"Look. Inside your eyes," the creature murmured, staring at Sam. "So old, so weathered for one so young. Full of questioning, full of longing, full of torture."

Sam's breath caught in the back of his throat.

"And you've seen it too…" the creature said.

"Seen what?" said Sam, barely above whispering.

"The Wolf," it said. "There is something of the Wolf about you…"

"I-I don't know what you mean," Sam said nervously.

"You burnt like the sun," the creature said darkly. "But all I require is the moon."

Suddenly, with a loud and shattering BANG, the cellar door was opened, and the dark was invaded by the clean white light of the full moon.

The creature turned toward the light, smiling gratefully. "Moonlight," it moaned happily, and it began to transform…

 

-

 

"Mistletoe," said the Doctor, after an odd display of licking the wall analytically. He, Sam, the Queen, and Sir Robert were trapped inside the library with the great telescope, the wolf prowling around outside the room. "Viscum album, the oil of the mistletoe. It's been worked into the wood like a varnish. Powerful stuff, mistletoe. Bursting with lectins and viscotoxins, but why?"

"Maybe…it repels the wolf?" Sam guessed.

"Right on the first try!" the Doctor exclaimed. "If we weren't in the presence of her Majesty Queen Victoria in the 19th century about to be torn apart by a lupine wavelength haemovariform, I would kiss you! Perfect context too, considering the mistletoe, but never mind that now…" He turned to the bookshelves, scanning them intently.

"Er, he's kidding," said Sam to the other two, his ears turning red. "He's got a…strange sense of humor. Me and him…we're just mates. No! Wait! I meant we're…friends, that's all."

Sir Robert just looked away from the stuttering man awkwardly. The Queen just rolled her eyes.

 

-

 

Sam sighed with relief as the werewolf disappeared. The Doctor bent down to retrieve the Kohl-in-Noor diamond from the floor.

Queen Victoria was staring at her wrist. "Your Majesty?" the Doctor asked slowly.

The Queen did not answer.

"Did it bite you?" the Doctor asked.

"No," said the Queen. "It's…it's a cut, that's all."

The Doctor cautiously took a step forward. "If that thing bit you…"

"It was a splinter of wood when the door came apart," said the Queen. "It was nothing."

"Let me see?" said the Doctor, reaching her wrist.

"It is nothing," the Queen declared, stepping away from him. She smiled enigmatically at him.

The Doctor didn't look so sure.

 

-

 

Sam and the Doctor stepped forward and knelt before the Queen. "By the power invested in me by the Church and the State, I dub thee Sir Doctor of TARDIS." She gently touched the Doctor's shoulders with the tip of a saber. She did the same as she knighted Sam "Sir Sam of the Powell Estates".

The two men grinned at each other.

"Many thanks, ma'am," said the Doctor.

"It's been an honor, mum," added Sam.

"Your Majesty, you said last night about receiving no message from the great beyond," the Doctor said. "I think your husband cut that diamond to save your life. He's protecting you even now, ma'am, from beyond the grave."

"Indeed," agreed the Queen. "Then you may think on this also: that I am not amused."

Sam turned his head and smirked at the Doctor.

"Not remotely amused," continued Victoria. "And henceforth I banish you."

"I'm sorry?" the Doctor stated, looking bewildered.

"I rewarded you, Sir Doctor, and now you are exiled from this empire, never to return," the Queen declared. "I don't know what you are, the two of you, or where you're from, but I know that you consort with stars and magic and think it fun. But your world is steeped in terror and blasphemy and death, and I will not allow it. You will leave these shores and you will reflect, I hope, on how you came to stray so far from all that is good, and how much longer you may survive this terrible life. Now leave my world, and never return."

 

-

 

"No, but the funny thing is, Queen Victoria did actually suffer a mutation of the blood," the Doctor was saying to Sam on the long walk back to the TARDIS (after Sam made the Doctor give up the ten quid). "It's historical record. She was hemophiliac. They used to call it the Royal Disease. But it's always been a mystery because she didn't inherit it. Her mum didn't have it, her dad didn't have it. It came from nowhere."

"And you think it came from the wolf bite," said Sam.

"Well, maybe hemophilia is a Victorian euphemism," the Doctor said, stuffing his hands in his pockets.

Sam laughed. "So what, you're saying the Royal Family is a…wolf pack?"

"Ay, you didn't hear it from me," said the Doctor, winking.

"Nah, that's ridiculous," said Sam. "Mind you, Princess Anne…" The two men howled with laughter as they boarded their ship and dematerialized.

Chapter Text

"So…why are we on an abandoned ship, exactly?" Sam said as he idly looked about the spacecraft the TARDIS had materialized inside of.

"No idea," said the Doctor, looking over the disrepaired console of the ship. "The TARDIS has a mind of her own sometimes, I swear."

"Hah. I'll vouch for that," said Sam. "Can't believe we were a hundred years off last time."

The Doctor sighed. "You're never going to let me live that one down, are you?...Hmm. Strange. The ship's power's at full capacity. There's enough power running through this ship to punch a hole in the universe, but we're not moving. So where's all that power going?"

"Hey, Doctor?" Sam called as he wandered into a side room.

"Yeah?"

"Does a spaceship necessarily need an old timey fireplace?"

"What?" The Doctor followed after Sam. In the room, there was indeed a decadent, old fashioned hearth. "Well, there's something you don't see in your average spaceship. Eighteenth century. French. Nice mantle." He stooped to inspect it, scanning it with his sonic screwdriver. "Not a hologram. It's not even a reproduction. This actually is an eighteenth century French fireplace. Double sided. There's another room through there."

"But that's impossible," Sam said, peering through a window. "We're in space. There it is, right out there, the outer hull of the ship."

The Doctor squatted on the ground to look through the dancing flames and saw a little girl in a white nightie with long blonde hair staring back at him. "Hello," he said.

"Hello," the girl replied.

"What's your name?" the Doctor asked.

"Who are you talking to?" Sam asked, kneeling beside him. "Oh. Hello, there."

"Hello," the girl said again. "And my name is Reinette."

"Reinette," the Doctor repeated. "That's a lovely name. Can you tell me where you are at the moment, Reinette?"

Reinette looked puzzled. "In my bedroom."

"And where's your bedroom?" the Doctor asked. "Where do you live, Reinette?"

"Paris, of course," Reinette said.

"Paris, right," said the Doctor.

"Monsieur," said the little girl, tilting her head to the side. "What are you doing in my fireplace?"

"Oh, it's just a routine check," the Doctor said. "Can you tell me what year it is?"

"Of course I can. 1727."

"Right, lovely. One of my favorites," the Doctor said. "August is rubbish though. Stay indoors. Okay, that's all for now. Thanks for your help. Hope you enjoy the rest of the fire. Night, night."

"Goodnight, monsieur," said Reinette, as the Doctor and Sam stood back up.

"What the bloody hell was that?" Sam asked.

"A hole in the universe," the Doctor replied. "From a spaceship in the 51st century to a little girl's bedroom in eighteenth century France."

"And…is that bad?"

"Could be. I've got to check this out. There must be a way to the other side, so to speak...gotcha!" The Doctor found a secret lever on the side of the fireplace and pulled it. The fireplace and the wall it was attached to immediately began to rotate, like a trick wall in one of those campy old Scooby Doo episodes.

"Doctor!" Sam exclaimed as the Doctor disappeared.

Minutes later, the Doctor returned, toting a large droid looking thing that was dressed in Victorian clothes, a powdered wig, and a porcelain mask. It made a loud ticking noise as it went, like a great big clock.

"What the hell is that?!" Sam exclaimed.

The Doctor grabbed a large gun laying off to the side and used it to spray the monster with a vaporous white substance. The droid froze in place.

"What is that thing?" Sam asked again.

"Fire extinguisher," the Doctor said, tossing him the big gun.

"No, I meant the big Victorian clockwork droid thing!" Sam exclaimed.

"I'm not sure, but I like that name for it. 'Clockwork droid'."

"But where did it come from?" Sam said insistantly.

"Here, in the ship."

"And it's dressed like that, why?"

"Field trip to France. Some kind of basic camouflage protocol." The Doctor stepped forward to properly inspect it, now that it wasn't a threat. "Nice needlework. Shame about the face." The Doctor removed the mask and wig to reveal a small clear plastic head encasing intricate golden gears and cogs.

"Clockwork droid," the Doctor said again. "It really is the perfect name. Oh, you are beautiful! No, really, you are. You're gorgeous! Look at that. Space age clockwork, I love it. I've got chills! Listen, seriously, I mean this from the hearts, and, by the way, count those, it would be a crime, it would be an act of vandalism to disassemble you." The Doctor pulled out his sonic screwdriver. "But that won't stop me."

All of a sudden, the droid vanished. "Whoa, what'd it do?" Sam said.

"Short range teleport," the Doctor answered. "Can't have gotten far. Probably still on board."

"And where are you going?" Sam asked as the Doctor reached for the secret lever again.

"To investigate," the Doctor said. "And don't go looking for it!" he called as the wall turned and he disappeared from view.

"Alright," Sam replied. Then, once the Doctor was gone, he grinned, clutched the extinguisher, and ran off to find the monster.

 

-

 

"Oi, what'd I say? 'Don't wander off', that's the first rule," the Doctor said fifteen minutes later when he found Sam.

"Hey, you," said Sam. "What's up? Your face is all…flushed."

"Is it?" The Doctor looked away. "Must be the lighting in here."

"Your lips are swollen, too," said Sam, forcing the Doctor to look at him. "Hang on…have you been snogging someone?"

"Well…no, not exactly. She snogged me," the Doctor replied.

"Who?"

"Reinette."

Sam looked aghast. "You snogged a little girl?!"

"No, no, she grew up! There's something about the doorways between here and there, it's like their time moves faster. What was a few minutes for us was several years for her."

"And you snogged her?"

"Yes, and you'll never believe who she is. She's not just some French girl. She's Jean-Antoinette Poisson! Or more commonly known as Madame de Pompadour! Mistress of Louis the Fifteenth, uncrowned Queen of France! Actress, artist, musician, dancer, courtesan, fantastic gardener."

"And you snogged her?"

"Well…yes. A little."

Sam turned away. "Oh. Well. Good. Alright."

"Sam?" the Doctor asked cautiously. "Does my kissing Reinette bother you-"

"No!" exclaimed Sam. "Of course not. Why would it? I mean…you can kiss whoever you want. Cassandra, Madame de Pompadour, Cleopatra…it's no concern of mine."

"Okay," said the Doctor. "Just so we're on the same page."

"Yeah."

"Great."

"Fine."

"Super."

They were quiet for a minute, before Sam finally said, "So, while I was looking around, I discovered something. The ship. It's partially made up out of human body parts. There was an eyeball in a security camera, and a heart wired into the mainframe."

"Really?" The Doctor put a hand to his chin. "Replacing parts of the ship with body parts. But why…"

 

-

 

"Reinette, you're going to have to trust me," the Doctor said, pressing his fingertips to the woman's temples. "I need to find out what they're looking for. There's only one way I can do that. It won't hurt a bit."

Reinette gasped as the Doctor instigated a mind meld with her brain. "Fireplace man, you are inside my mind!"

"Oh dear, Reinette," murmured the Doctor. "You've had some cowboys in here. "

"You are in my memories. You walk among them."

"If there's anything you don't want me to see, just imagine a door and close it. I won't look," said the Doctor. "Oh, actually there's a door just there. You might want to cl-oh, actually, several."

"To walk among the memories of another living soul. Do you ever get used to this?" she asked.

"I don't make a habit of it."

"How can you resist?"

"What age are you?" the Doctor asked.

"So impertinent a question so early in the conversation," said Reinette. She smiled mischievously. "How promising."

"No, not my question, theirs. You're twenty three and for some reason, that means you're not old enough."

Reinette suddenly winced in his grasp.

"Sorry, you might find old memories reawakening. Side effect," the Doctor apologized.

Reinette shuddered. "Oh, such a lonely life."

"It'll pass," said the Doctor. "Stay with me."

"Oh, Doctor. So lonely. So very, very alone."

"What do you mean, alone? You've never been alone in your life." Suddenly, the Doctor opened his eyes. "When did you start calling me Doctor?"

"Such a happy little boy," Reinette continued. "Happy and in love. But then…it was ripped away from you, wasn't it? He was taken away from you and replaced with a monster. A monster now long dead."

The Doctor pulled away his hands in horror.

Reinette stared at him with glassy eyes. "It is the saddest thing I have ever heard. To be forced to fight against the one you want and hold most dear in your heart. How can you bear it?"

"How did you do that?" the Doctor whispered.

"A door, once opened, can be stepped through in either direction. Oh, Doctor. My lonely Doctor." She held out her hand. "Dance with me."

 

-

 

"Oh, look what the cat dragged in," Sam grumbled as the Doctor drunkenly staggered in, carrying a glass of red wine, with sunglasses on his face and his tie wrapped around his head like a bandana. Sam was strapped to a table with a clockwork droid's razor attachment shoved under his nose, ready to make an incision. "The Oncoming Storm. Where the hell have you been, off snogging more historical hussies?!"

"Well, among other things, I think just invented the banana daiquiri a few centuries early. Do you know, they've never even seen a banana before. Always take a banana to a party, Sam. Bananas are good." The Doctor ambled over to the droid hovering over Sam. "Oh ho, ho, ho, ho, brilliant! It's you. You're my favorite, you are. You are the best! Do you know why? 'Cause you're so thick. You're Mister Thick-Thick-Thickity-Thick Face from Thicktown, Thickania. And so's your dad!" The Doctor looked at Sam. "Do you know what they were scanning Reinette's brain for? Her milometer. They want to know how old she is. Know why? Because this ship is thirty seven years old, and they think that when Reinette is thirty seven, when she's complete, then her brain will be compatible. So, that's what you're missing, isn't it, hmm?" He said to the droid. "Command circuit. Your computer. Your ship needs a brain. And for some reason, God knows what, only the brain of Madame de Pompadour will do."

"The brain is compatible."

"Compatible?" The Doctor snorted. "If you believe that, you probably believe this is a glass of wine."

The Doctor removed the android's mask and poured the contents of his goblet into its circuitry. The clockwork seized up and shorted out immediately.

"Multigrain anti-oil," said the Doctor, dropping the drunk façade. "If it moves, it doesn't."

 

-

 

"Are you there? Can you hear me? I need you now. You promised. The clock on the mantel is broken. It is time!"

"That's my voice," said Reinette, looking fearfully at Sam.

Sam wished he could say something…anything, to console this woman. She must be so scared, not knowing anything. "Are you okay?" he finally said.

"No," answered Reinette honestly. "I'm very afraid. But you and I both know, don't we, Sam?"

She smiled bravely.

"The Doctor is worth the monsters."

 

-

 

Sam watched as the clockwork droids invaded the party in Versailles, taking Madame de Pompadour prisoner. "Doctor, they have her, what are we going to do?"

"I don't know, I'm trying!" The Doctor exclaimed, rushing around the controls. "They've closed off all the windows, the only way to get there and back is via teleport, which they have and we don't!"

"But we have the TARDIS!"

"No, no, we can't take the TARDIS, we're already a part of events."

"Then…then…let's smash through," said Sam.

The Doctor stopped. "What?"

"Yeah. Let's just smash through the windows," said Sam.

"If I do that," said the Doctor, "I'd be trapped in 18th century France. Forever."

"Doctor," said Sam. "You can't let her die."

The Doctor looked at him with big sad brown eyes. "You'd be stuck too, here."

"I'd find a way to come get you," said Sam. "I did it before, didn't I?"

"Sam…are you sure?" the Doctor asked him seriously.

"Doctor, you'd never forgive yourself if you let them kill her. Do what you need to do." Sam touched the Doctor's arm. "I'll be okay."

 

-

 

Sam stood at the Doctor's shoulder as he read the letter from Madame de Pompadour. "Are you alright?" he asked.

The Doctor gave a forced smile. "I'm always alright."

"Liar."

The Doctor laughed weakly. "Okay, no. But I will be."

Without having to be asked, Sam hugged him tightly.

Chapter Text

Of course the Doctor had been lying to Sam, of course he wasn't alright. Reinette's death had saddened him, and he had never even gotten to fulfill his promise to her. But that would go away. He had only known Madame de Pompadour for a short couple of hours. But the experience of the reverse mind meld would not be so easily shaken.

The Doctor had not thought of his old best enemy since the War. Why would he?

The Master was dead, long dead. The Daleks had captured and executed the evil Time Lord. But before he died, he made one last request to his executioners: summon his old frenemy, the Doctor, and have him deliver his remains to be buried on their home planet, Gallifrey.

So, his seventh self, the short one with the ugly sweater vest and question mark umbrella, grudgingly made the pilgrimage to Skaro, picked up the small gold casket containing the last stray bits of his longtime rival, and brought them home.

Or at least, he meant to.

It was really stupid of him to think that the wicked witch was morally, ethically, spiritually, physically, positively, absolutely, undeniably and reliably dead. Honestly, how many times had the Master died and then simply reappeared later along his timeline, with no explanation as to his survival? It was as the hull of his last true Time Lord body had told him: it is my hatred that sustains me. And it seemed true, for the Master seemed to have one goal and one goal alone: to kill the Doctor. And a few times, he came pretty damn close.

But, back to the story. The Master somehow managed to not only survive the execution, but break free from his urn (even in death, he couldn't trust him), worm his way into his TARDIS's inner circuitry, cause the TARDIS to land in San Francisco, 1999, and made the Seventh Doctor get shot by triads and nearly operated on to death by a confused heart surgeon who was unfamiliar with the Time Lord binary circulatory system (poor Grace).

Okay, that last bit wasn't necessarily the Master's fault, it really was an unfortunate (or from the Master's point of view, happy) accident. Anyway, the Doctor ended up regenerating, snogging aforementioned heart surgeon a bit, and stopping the Master from destroying the universe and stealing his remaining regenerations. This all concluded with the Master falling into the Eye of Harmony, to live out the rest of his consciousness's existence in the black hole within his TARDIS. The Doctor had tried to offer his help one last time to his old enemy, in hopes that there might be a way to salvage the good man the Doctor had once known, but the Master had refused and allowed himself to be sucked in.

Stuck in a black hole. For all eternity. Such a cruel punishment. But still, the Doctor couldn't help feeling like the Master deserved it…a little.

As for the Master's current condition and whereabouts, the Doctor didn't know, but he could only guess that he was either a) festering as a ghost of sorts inside his TARDIS (wouldn't surprise him, he would do it, just to spite him, plus it might explain the ship's recent misbehavior), or b) (and this was the more likely option)…the Master had simply ceased to exist. If the Master was still around, the Doctor would have been able to sense him. But he knew there were no more Time Lords, because he could not feel them. He was the last. Alone.

Well, of course, the Doctor had been hurt when the Master died, of course he was, he was an old…friend, after all. The Doctor had told himself that it was pointless to grieve over the Master, because all he had been was a nuisance (at best) and a terror throughout the cosmos. It was better, he decided, that he was gone. Their friendship was long, long over, and either way, Koschei was dead. It was undeniable.

…and yet sometimes, he almost wished for his presence.

Well, that wasn't completely true. Someone like Susan, or his mother, father, brother, or son, would have naturally been more desirable than an old arch enemy. But there had been a time when the Doctor and the Master were friends. Theta Sigma had missed Koschei very much, all throughout his contract marriage, after he had divorced his wife, the remainder of his first life, and much of his second. And of course, you know the rest.

The Doctor had loved Koschei. He wasn't denying that. But Koschei and the Master were gone, just like the rest of the Time Lords. The Doctor had moved on.

But then why did Reinette recalling those memories of him make his hearts ache?

"Hey, Doctor?"

The Doctor shook his head slightly, shaken from his reverie. "Er, yes? What is it, Sam?"

Sam seemed to be inspecting his face in the mirror. He ran a finger over the skin between his nose and upper lip. "How do you suppose I'd look with facial hair?"

The Doctor laughed. "Not very good, I think. I like the clean shaven look on you. I imagine if you tried to grow a beard, you'd just end up looking like a savage."

"S'pose you're right," Sam laughed. "Silly me. I'm off to shave."

The Doctor chuckled to himself as his companion jogged off to the bathroom. Silly Sam. And silly Doctor, too.

Chapter Text

"Doctor?" Sam called from the console. "Can I let go of this now?"

"Let go of what?" asked the Doctor, coming into the control room.

"This button here. You told me to put my finger on it."

The Doctor paled. "When was that?"

"About half an hour ago."

"You-you can let go now."

Sam released the button. "How long's it been since I could have stopped?"

The Doctor swallowed. "Ten minutes? Twenty…twenty nine?"

Suddenly, the ship gave a great lurch. The console blew up in a fiery shower of sparks. The two men grabbed on to either side of the console. "The Time Vortex!" the Doctor cried as he stared at the monitor. "That's impossible. It's just…gone!"

"Doctor, we're crashing!" Sam yelled.

"Hold on!"

The TARDIS halted as it crashlanded God knows where. The light inside the TARDIS was off, and the time rotor wasn't moving anymore. "Sam!" coughed the Doctor. "You alright?"

"Yeah!" Sam called back, struggling to stand up from where he'd fallen. "You?"

"Yeah. But the TARDIS…" The Doctor inspected the workings of his machine. "She's dead," the Doctor said in horror. "The TARDIS is dead."

"What?" sputtered Sam. "But…but…you can fix it, yeah?"

"There's nothing to fix," said the Doctor. "She's perished. The last TARDIS in existence…extinct."

Sam covered his face with his hands and rubbed in agitation. "Doctor, I'm…I'm so sorry."

"No, it's not your fault, it was my stupid fault." The Doctor sorrowfully ran a hand over the now useless time rotor.

"So…where are we?" Sam asked, crossing to the door.

"Sam, don't go out there! We fell out of the vortex, through the void, into nothingness. We're in some sort of no place."

"By no place, do you mean London?"

"What?" The Doctor turned around.

"Yeah," said Sam, pointing out the door. "It's London out there." He walked out, and the Doctor dazedly followed him.

"See? London, England, Earth. Hold on…" Sam picked up and consulted a newspaper someone had left sitting on a park bench. "First of February this year. Not too far off, are we?"

"So this is London," said the Doctor, gazing at the sky.

"Yep."

"Your city."

"Last time I checked."

"Just as we left it."

"Bang on."

"And that includes the Zeppelins?"

Sam curiously looked up. "Bloody hell!" he exclaimed.

The sky was littered with huge silver blimps. "Okay…so it's London with a big international Zeppelin festival," said Sam, rubbing the back of his neck.

"This is not your world," said the Doctor darkly.

 

-

 

They were in, Sam sussed out, a parallel world. "We're not meant to be here," the Doctor said. "The TARDIS draws its power from the universe, but it's the wrong universe. It's like diesel in a petrol engine."

"But I've seen it in comics. People go hopping from one alternative world to another. It's easy…and that was a really dumb thing to say, wasn't it," said Sam, seeing the look on the Doctor's face.

The Doctor tipped his head slightly to the side, not saying yes, not saying no. But really saying yes. "It's not so easy in the real world," he answered. "It used to be easy though. When the Time Lords kept their eye on everything, you could hop between realities, home in time for tea. Then they died, and took it all with them. The walls of reality closed, the worlds were sealed. Everything became less kind."

 

-

 

The Citadel guards opened the doors for the Master, and with a signature crafty grin, he entered, dramatically pushing the tails of his velvet jacket out of the way as he seated himself at the table with his fellow Time Lords.

He was in a surprisingly good mood. True, the Doctor had just foiled his latest plot, but it was really just a lark, mostly just to annoy his enemy. And as always, the misadventure had ended with the Doctor sabotaging his TARDIS (a rather nasty habit he'd developed; the Master would never sink so low), but this summons by the Time Lords had included a mending of his TARDIS, free of charge. Best of all, he had gotten to encounter his old enemy again, and had amused himself by invading the other Time Lord's personal space. It made him chuckle internally at how the Doctor's current incarnation became so squeamish when the Master drew intimately near. So all in all, not a terrible day.

"Lord President, Castellan, Chancellor Flavia. This is a very great and, may I say, a most unexpected honor. I may be seated?...Now then, what can I do for you?" the Master simpered.

"You are one of the most evil and corrupt beings this Time Lord race has ever produced," said Flavia. "Your crimes are without number and your villainy without end. Nevertheless, we are prepared to offer you a full and free pardon."

The Master leaned forward. "And what makes you think I want your forgiveness?" he challenged.

"We can offer you an alternative to your renegade existence," said the Castellan.

"Regeneration," added Borusa. "A complete new life cycle."

The Master considered this. To have a Time Lord body again. No less, to have twelve fresh, new regenerations! Life extended. "What must I do?" he inquired at once.

"Rescue the Doctor," Borusa replied.

The Master drew back in his chair, surprised. "What?"

 

-

 

Sam shook his head. "Then how did we get here?"

The Doctor shrugged. "I don't know. Accident? Should've been impossible. Now we're trapped…what's that?" He looked down at something on the floor.

"What?"

"That, there. Is that a reflection?" The Doctor bent down to inspect a tiny green light in the workings under the floor grate. "It's a light!" exclaimed the Doctor. "Is it? Is that a light? I think that's a light. That's all we need. We've got power! Sam, we've got power! Ha!"

The Doctor unearthed the tiny, green glowing component. "It's alive!"

"What is it?" Sam asked.

"It's nothing. It's tiny. One of those insignificant little power cells that no one ever bothers about, and it's clinging onto life, with one little ounce of reality tucked away inside."

"Enough to get us home?" Sam asked hopefully.

"Not yet. I need to charge it up."

"We could go outside and lash it up to the National Grid," Sam suggested.

"Wrong sort of energy," said the Doctor. "It's got to come from our universe."

"But we don't have anything," said Sam, looking around.

The Doctor grinned. "There's me."

The Doctor cradled the cell in his hands and blew on it. Its soft green light grew a tad bit brighter.

The Doctor looked at Sam and smiled. "I just gave away ten years of my life…worth every second."

 

-

 

The Doctor was in trouble. Not only was the one he currently knew, the fifth incarnation, trapped in the Death Zone, but three other versions of him as well. The third, the one who had been marooned on Earth for some time, with the dandy-like fashion sense and the penchant for Venusian akido; the second one, a short fellow with a Beatles haircut and the wardrobe of a hobo, one who the Master had never gotten to know…and Theta. A much older Theta, nearing the end of his first life.

The fourth, however, was trapped in the Time Vortex. That was fine with the Master. He didn't fancy facing the incarnation of the Doctor he'd killed off…not because he felt guilty, of course.

"We believe the attempt to lift him from his time stream was unsuccessful. There he must stay until we can find and free his other selves," Flavia was saying.

"And if you cannot?" the Master asked. He looked down at the table.

"The cosmos without the Doctor scarcely bares thinking about," he said, without really realizing he'd said it.

Then he caught himself and looked up. "What makes you think his other selves are in the Zone?" he inquired.

"Their time traces. They converge there," Borusa answered.

"And you can get me into the Zone?"

"We have a power-boosted, open-ended transmat beam," the Castellan informed him.

"Ah," said the Master. "Why me?"

The Master tried to ignore a meaningful look shared by Flavia and the Castellan. "Because we need someone determined, experienced, ruthless, cunning," said Borusa.

"And disposable," added the Master.

"Not at all," the Castellan reassured him. "You would be useless to us dead."

"Will you go?" Flavia asked.

"Will you?" Borusa added.

"And rescue the Doctor…" the Master considered.

He laughed.

 

-

 

"It's going out," said Sam, watching as the cell redimmed. "Is that okay?"

"It's on a recharging cycle," the Doctor said. "It'll loop round, power back up and be ready to take us home in, ooh, twenty four hours?"

Sam grinned. "So that gives us twenty four hours on a parallel world?"

The Doctor grinned, knowing exactly what Sam was thinking. "Allons-y, Sam Tyler."

 

-

 

They were walking down the street. Sam was looking around in amazement. "I can't believe it. It's just so…the same. But different. Kind of like when you changed. Isn't it though? Oh, hello, what's this?"

Sam's phone was buzzing. He pulled it out. A message had popped up on the screen. Free trial period?

Sam shrugged and hit ACCEPT. "Doctor, lookit. Free Internet on my phone."

On the little screen, there was a video of a newscaster. "And today, England was very happy to welcome home John Lumic, owner of Cybus Industries-"

"Sam." The Doctor shook his arm. "Look."

Sam looked up from his screen to see that all the people around them were frozen. "What is it?"

The Doctor walked up to the nearest one. He, like all the others, wearing a pair of metal ear buds. "It's the ear pieces," he said.

"But-" Suddenly, Sam was interrupted by the sound of a loud screeching. A van suddenly pulled up along side them. The doors burst open, and two men jumped out, a white guy with spiky blonde hair and a black man with very short hair, both wearing darkly colored clothes.

"Come on, Harry!" exclaimed Spiky Hair as he grabbed Sam roughly by the shoulders.

"Ah! Oi, let go of me!" Sam shouted as he was forced into the van.

"Sam!" the Doctor cried as the doors to the van slammed shut and the vehicle sped away.

Chapter Text

"What the bloody hell were you thinking? Wandering out onto the streets like that, in plain daylight?" Spiky Hair demanded, lightly cuffing Sam on the ear. "It was you who said we gotta stay in hiding. And who was that skinny bloke you were with? Brother? You said no family!"

"He's not my brother," said Sam. "He's the Doctor, and-who the hell are you people?!"

Spiky Hair raised an eyebrow. "Who are we? What game are you playing, Harry?"

"I'm not Harry!" Sam exclaimed. "Why do you keep calling me Harry?!"

"Boss is off his rocker," said Spiky Hair's friend. "Do you reckon they done something to him, Jake?"

"Dunno, Mickey. But don't worry," said the spiky haired fellow, who was apparently named Jake. He turned to look at Sam. "We'll sort him out."

"Listen, mates, I think you've got me mistaken for some other bloke," said Sam. "My name is Sam, not Harry, and-"

The blonde woman who was driving the van, cut him off as she called back to them, "Jake! I looked up those vans you spied taking the homeless. They're owned by a company named International Electromatics. But I did a protocol search. Turns out that's a dummy company established by guess who."

"Cybus Industries," Mickey and Jake spat at the same time, venomously.

"Cybus Industries…" Sam said slowly. "I heard of them…it was on the news on my phone."

"Damn right you've heard of 'em," said Jake. "They're the blighters we're fighting against. You're fighting against."

"Me?" Sam said.

Jake shook his spiky head. "Poor chappie. They really mucked you up, didn't they?"

"Ay, Saxon," said Mickey. "Got some good news for you. Well, good and bad news. They arrested Thin Jimmy today."

"So that just leaves you," added Jake.

"Leaves me…as what?" Sam said nervously.

"The Number One. Top of the list. London's Most Wanted." Jake grinned.

"Oh…well…that's brilliant," said Sam slowly.

He needed to get back to the Doctor. But for now, these people had him captured. They thought he was this Harry guy. So Sam figured it was in his best interest to just keep quiet and play along.

 

-

 

The Doctor pulled out his sonic screwdriver and scanned the van as it was driving away. He got a signal on it. He looked around and ran over to a motorist, still catatonic from the signal coming from the earpieces. He gently pried him off his vehicle.

"I'm sorry, I'm so sorry," he said as he climbed on. "But I'm requisitioning this bike. I need to find my friend."

He jetted off after the van.

 

-

 

The van pulled up to an old abandoned house. It was evening now, Sam noted when he climbed out of the van with Jake, Mickey, and the blonde woman. "There's a light on," Jake noted, gesturing up to the house. "There's someone inside the base. Mrs. Moore, we've got visitors."

Mickey and Mrs. Moore both pulled out guns. Sam eyed them nervously.

The four of them crept up to the house. When they got to the front door, Jake halted them. He held up his gun to his chest, ready to fire. "One, two, three, go!" he whispered, and they rushed inside.

They emerged in a room that was probably the living area at some point. There was old worn out furniture, yellowed floral wallpaper that was peeling from the walls, and a dusty chandelier illuminating the room. By the crumbling hearth, there was a man dressed all in black, his back turned to them. He turned at the sound of them tromping in. "What the hell are you doing?" he said.

Sam's mouth dropped open. Except for the clothes, the man was his exact likeness! This must be Harry Saxon.

Jake stared at Sam's twin in confusion. "What're you doing there?"

"What am I doing here?" Harry demanded. He pointed at Sam accusingly. "What am I doing there?"

Mickey and Mrs. Moore quickly turned their guns on Sam.

He gulped. "Erm…I can explain."

 

-

 

They stripped Sam down to his knickers and strung him up to a chair. Mickey ran a device over his limbs that reminded Sam of the Doctor's sonic screwdriver. "He's clean," Mickey announced. "No bugs."

"But this is off the scale," said Harry Saxon, studying his twin. "He's flesh and blood. How did that happen?"

"Well, it could be that Cybus Industries have perfected the science of human cloning," Mrs. Moore reasoned.

"Or your father had a bike," Jake added, chuckling.

Harry glared at him.

Jake stopped laughing. "Sorry, boss."

"Alright, you," said Harry, looking at Sam. "What's your name?"

"SAM TYLER!" They all looked up in surprise as the Doctor came tromping in. "How many times have I told you not to go wondering off?"

"Oh, sorry, mate, just wanted a bit of a lark, you know, won't happen again. Where the hell have you been?!" Sam exclaimed.

Mickey, Jake, and Mrs. Moore all aimed their guns at the Doctor.

"You know him?" Harry asked, jerking a thumb at his counterpart.

"Ooh, parallel Sam, that's brilliant, that is, hello, I'm the Doctor! What's your name?" said the Doctor genially. "By the way, I'm unarmed, and I don't particularly care for violence, so if you could just put the guns away."

"Jake," ordered Harry. "Frisk him."

Jake patted the Doctor down. He pulled out the Doctor's sonic screwdriver. "What's this?"

"Just a screwdriver. Nothing threatening."

"It could be a bomb trigger," said Mrs. Moore suspiciously.

"Fine, take it, but I'm telling you, it's nothing harmful," said the Doctor, as Jake passed Harry the sonic screwdriver.

"Alright, Harry, he's clean," said Jake.

Mrs. Moore and Mickey put down their guns.

"Well, I can see why you kidnapped my friend," said the Doctor. "You thought he was this fellow here, and I can see why."

"What is he?" asked Harry.

"Oi, that's rude," scolded the Doctor. "He's not an it, he's a person, and he's got a name. Isn't that right, Sam Tyler?"

"Tyler?!" repeated Harry. Suddenly, Mickey and Mrs. Moore pulled out their guns again, one aimed at Sam, one at the Doctor. "As in Pete Tyler?!" Harry spat.

"Well, Tyler's a common name," the Doctor said. "I never knew a Pete Tyler, did you, Sam?"

Sam swallowed. "No. Never."

"Well, then, there you are," said the Doctor. "No connection. So you can relax."

They put their guns down, but not away. "So, who are you lot then?" the Doctor asked.

"We? We are the Preachers," said Harry.

"As in Gospel Truth," added Jake.

Harry turned his head from side to side. "You see? No ear plugs. While the rest of the world downloads from Cybus Industries, we, we have freedom. You're talking to London's Most Wanted, but target Number One is Lumic, and we are going to bring him down."

The Doctor looked around. "From a rundown old mansion?"

"You got a problem with that?"

"No, no, it's a nice rundown old mansion, don't me wrong," said the Doctor. "But just out of curiousity, what have you all got against this Lumic fellow?"

"Lumic is an autocrat," said Harry menacingly. "He controls the government from his company. He's ruthless, vicious, and murderous."

"Murderous?" the Doctor asked in surprise.

"He takes people off the streets," said Mickey. "And then they're never seen again."

Suddenly, a computer in the corner chirped. Mrs. Moore rushed over and inspected the screen. "It's an upload from Gemini."

"Who's Gemini?" the Doctor asked.

"Covert intelligence," Harry explained briefly. "Keeping tabs on Cybus and Lumic for those of us seeking independence."

"The vans are back," Mrs. Moore reported. "They're moving out of Battersea. Looks like Gemini was right. Lumic's finally making a move."

"And we're right behind him. Pack up, we're leaving," ordered Harry. He turned and looked at the Doctor. "You, Mister…what was your name?"

"Just Doctor, thanks."

"Right then. Doctor, if you and your friend would accompany us," said Harry.

"But why?" Sam asked, as Mickey untied him.

"Because I have this feeling that the two of you can help us," said Harry. "We leave in ten minutes. Get moving." Then he walked out.

As Jake, Mickey, and Mrs. Moore began to pack up their equipment, the Doctor hurried over to Sam. "You alright?"

"Yeah. How'd you find me?"

The Doctor shrugged. "Eh. Stole a bike. Nice look for you, by the way."

Sam looked down and realized that he was still in his underpants. "D'oh!" He blushed and quickly pulled on his discarded clothes.

 

-

 

They piled up in the van. Mickey, Jake, Mrs. Moore, and Sam were all in the back, while the Doctor sat up front with Harry.

Harry tailed a big eighteen wheeler labeled "International Electromatics" on the side. "So…what's your plan?" the Doctor asked.

"According to the reports, the trucks are going to this big shindig Pete Tyler's throwing at his mansion, birthday party for his wife or something. We're going to send in a couple of people to do reconnaissance, then, when Lumic makes his move, the rest of us burst in."

"Send Sam and me," said the Doctor.

"No way. I'm going in," said Harry.

"You're not serious. You said you're London's Most Wanted. You can't just waltz into some big gala party. Besides, you need to lead your team. Send me and Sam. You'd be surprised at how good we are at blending in."

Harry looked like he'd never considered this. "Well…fine. But take this," he handed the Doctor a watch and a pair of ear pieces. "The ear plugs are fakes; they'll help you blend in. And the watch is a communication device to keep in touch with us in case you run into any trouble. And here, here's your…thing." He gave the Doctor back his sonic screwdriver.

"Thanks. Much appreciated. Sam'll need some ear pieces too, and probably some form of disguise, since he looks just like you."

"Mrs. Moore is handling it."

In the back of the van, Mickey and Jake were loading up their weapons, while Mrs. Moore was working with Sam.

"Just hold still," said Mrs. Moore, as she dabbed some spirit gum onto Sam's face.

"Is this really necessary?" Sam asked as Mrs. Moore slapped a fake moustache and goatee beard onto his face.

"Yep. Now, ear pods fit alright?"

"Yeah. Thanks, mum."

As Mrs. Moore got up to get her gun, Mickey slid into her seat. "Hey. Mickey Smith."

"Sam Tyler. But you knew that," said Sam as he shook Mickey's hand.

"Just wanted to apologize for the way we treated you before. Can't be too careful, you know?"

"Yeah. I get it."

"Say, listen," said Mickey, looking around as if to make sure no one was listening. "Better keep a hold on your man. I saw the way Harry was eyeballing him."

Sam's eyebrows knit together. "Who?"

"You know. The Doctor?" Mickey suddenly looked embarrassed. "Oh wait. You two aren't-"

"No, we're not!" Sam stated.

"Oh. Sorry. I just thought…you know, with the way he was staring at you in your skivvies back there-"

"Yeah, no, never gonna happen," said Sam drily. "I don't fancy men."

"Well, Harry does," said Mickey. "And the Doctor's right up his alley. So I'd be watchful. You know what I mean?"

Suddenly, the van came to a halt. The door opened. Harry poked his head in. "We're here."

They all hopped out. Sam went over to the Doctor at once. Harry repeated the plan. "Doctor, do you have a way of infiltrating the party?" he asked.

"Er, yeah, I can…whip up something," the Doctor replied. He winked at Sam.

"Good. Then get to it."

They separated. "Nice beard," chortled the Doctor.

"Shut up," said Sam, scratching at the fake hair glued to his face. "So, psychic paper, right? Who shall we be?"

"Kitchen staff-waiters. We'll be able to eavesdrop without being noticed. It's the perfect disguise."

Sam nodded, but he seemed to be thinking about something else.

"What is it?"

"I was lying back there, you know," said Sam. "About Pete Tyler. I do know him. Or I did. I'm a foster kid, remember? Pete and Jackie were my first family. But Pete died."

"Well, maybe not in this world," said the Doctor. "Every parallel world is built on decisions, paths not taken. Maybe in this world, Pete Tyler didn't die. Maybe in this world, he lived, and became successful. And before you ask, no, you can't introduce yourself. The Tylers may have their own children now, who knows?"

"Yeah, I know. I'm just saying. It's weird, right? Talk about coincidences."

"I don't believe in coincidences," the Doctor said. "The universe is very rarely so lazy."

 

-

 

Sam and the Doctor snuck in and posed as servers. They walked around the party, offering guests refreshments, eavesdropping all the while, but Sam didn't manage to pick up anything important.

"Waiter! Champagne, please."

Sam was called over by a blonde girl in a pink cocktail dress. "Thank you," she said, taking a glass from his tray.

"You're welcome, Miss…"

"Tyler. Rose Tyler," she answered. "My parents are the ones throwing this party."

"Oh," said Sam, a little surprised. So the Tylers did have a child. Had the Pete from his world survived, had the Tylers not given him up, this might be his sister. "Well, small world. I'm Sam Tyler."

The girl laughed. "Think we're related?"

Sam laughed too. "I don't think so."

"Say…I saw you talking with that waiter over there," said Rose, pointing to the Doctor, who looked especially handsome in his serving uniform. "He's kind of cute. Is he seeing anyone?"

"Ah…sorry, he's, um…gay," said Sam.

Rose sighed. "Typical. Well, thanks anyway." She walked away.

Sam wasn't sure why he'd told her that.

Suddenly, there was a ruckus around the room as partygoers gathered at the windows. Sam rushed over to the Doctor. "What's going on?"

The Doctor was staring out the window intently, in disbelief. "It's happening again."

"What do you mean?"

"I've seen them before," said the Doctor in horror.

"Seen what before?" Sam edged over to look at what everyone else was looking at.

Marching straight up to the house, was a battalion of silver, human shaped…robots. That was the best word for them. They were big, there were bulky looking, and they made Sam's spine tingle, as if he'd seen them before as well.

"What are they?" Sam whispered.

The Doctor looked at him with panicked brown eyes. "Cybermen!"

Chapter Text

The Cybermen invaded the Tylers' estate. They killed the President, and a bunch of partygoers. The Preachers tried to shoot at the Cybermen. "It's no good, bullets won't stop them!" the Doctor shouted. "We've got to get out of here!"

The troop raced for the door, but suddenly Sam spotted a familiar looking man in a black suit, running with a blonde woman in a black dress. No, that can't be…

"Pete, they're everywhere!" yelped the woman.

It was. "Oi! Pete, Jackie!" Sam shouted.

The couple looked up.

"This way! Follow us!" shouted Sam.

The Tylers followed after them, out the door, where Mrs. Moore pulled up in the van. "Everybody in!" she shouted.

"Rose!" Jackie cried, turning back. "Please, my daughter, she's still in there somewhere!"

"Mrs. Tyler, please, we have to go now," said Sam.

"But-"

"Listen, I'm really, really sorry, but if anyone's still in there, they're most likely…dead."

Jackie wailed.

"Please, Mrs. Tyler, we have to go, now!" Sam grabbed her hand and pulled her into the van. They promptly sped away.

Harry glared at Pete and Jackie. "Can't believe we wasted time saving them."

Sam looked up in surprise. "What've they done?"

Harry laughed without humor. "You don't know? Pete Tyler here works for John Lumic, the piece of scum that created those monsters."

"Oh, you think so?" said Pete. "And where'd you learn that? From Gemini, yeah?"

Harry looked a little taken aback. "How do you know about Gemini?"

"Because I run Gemini," said Pete. "Gemini is me. I created it. The only reason I worked with Lumic was to receive information on him. Besides, do you really think that if I was working with Lumic, I'd have let him kill my daughter?"

Beside him, Jackie let out a sob.

Sam patted her shoulder. "I'm sorry, Mrs. Tyler. Truly, I am. I met her. Her name was Rose, wasn't it? She was nice to me. Even though I was just a waiter. Maybe she's not dead. We can't know for sure. She may have gotten away."

Jackie wiped her eyes. "Thank you," she said. "Maybe you're right. You're a sweet boy, you know that? Your parents must be so proud of you."

Sam just smiled back.

"I thought I was broadcasting to the Security Services," continued Pete, sounding angry. "What do I get? Scooby Doo and his gang. They've even got the van!"

"It's alright, Mr. Tyler," said Sam. "The Preachers know what they're doing. Harry said he's London's Most Wanted."

Harry blanched. "Yeah, that's not exactly true. I'm London's Most Wanted for…parking tickets."

Pete rolled his eyes. "Great."

"But they were deliberate though!" said Harry defiantly. "I was fighting the system! Park anywhere, that was the idea."

"Good policy. I do much the same," said the Doctor. "I'm the Doctor, by the way. Lovely to meet you, Tylers."

"And I'm Sam," he added.

Pete miserably shook their hands. "Do any of you know if there's a way to find out if my daughter is…"

"We'll try our hardest to find her, Mr. Tyler," said Harry. "It's the least we could do, after all you've done for us."

"She might still be alive," Sam added.

"That's even worse," said Pete. "Because that's what Lumic does. He takes the living and he turns them into those machines."

"Cybermen. They're called Cybermen," said the Doctor. "And I'd take those ear pods off, if I were you. You never know. Lumic could be listening." Pete and Jackie handed over their ear pieces and the Doctor zapped them with the sonic screwdriver. "But he's overreached himself," the Doctor continued. "He's still just a businessman. He's assassinated the President. All we need to do is get to the city and inform the authorities. Because I promise you, this ends tonight."

 

-

 

Once the Master had been transmatted into the Death Zone, a barren waste land of dirt, rocks, and wilting grass, he wandered around a bit, not sure what he was looking for. Then, he heard the familiar sound of a car engine. He turned and saw a bright yellow roadster approaching, carrying a brunette woman and a white haired man in dandy clothes.

"I don't believe it," he said to himself. He ran toward the car, calling, "Doctor! Wait!"

The car slowed and backed up to meet him. The Master looked down at the third incarnation of his old enemy. "Jehosophat, it really is you," said the Doctor, staring at him in disbelief. "Yes, well, I should have known you'd be behind all this."

"Doctor, who is it?" asked the woman with him.

"He's my best enemy," said the Doctor. "He likes to be known as the Master," he said, turning back to the other man. "Don't you? My, my, my, but you've changed. Another regeneration?"

"Not exactly," the Master replied, gritting his teeth. As if he needed to be reminded that he was no longer a proper Time Lord! But soon, that would all be changed, back to the way it should be...

"I take it you are responsible for our being in the Death Zone?" the Doctor asked accusingly.

"For once, I'm innocent, here at the High Council's request to help you, and your other selves," said the Master.

"You? Sent here by the Time Lords to help me?" The Doctor snorted. "I've never heard such arrant nonsense."

"I happen to be telling the truth. I carry the Seal of the High Council," he said, pulling it out to demonstrate.

"Yes, forged, no doubt," said the Doctor.

"See for yourself," said the Master, handing it over for the Doctor to examine.

The Doctor looked it over to find that it was in fact, genuine. "Stolen, then," he decided, slipping it into the pocket of his ugly tartan cloak. "I'll return it at the first opportunity."

"If you would only listen, I'm here to help," the Master insisted.

"You? Help me? Rubbish. This is some kind of a trap."

"I knew this was going to be difficult, but I didn't realize that even you would be so stupid as to make it impossible," the Master grumbled.

Suddenly, a bolt of lightning, one of the many perils of Gallifrey's Death Zone, struck, and the Master jumped out of the way to narrowly miss it. "I knew it! A trap," the Doctor exclaimed.

"These thunderbolts are everywhere," the Master pointed out, a little offended, as the Doctor reached for his gearshift.

"No, we can't leave him," the Doctor's companion protested.

The Doctor stuck that beaky nose in the air, saying, "You just watch me," as he sped away, leaving the Master behind.

 

-

 

Lumic took control of the citizens via the ear pieces and drove them in drones to his factory, where he could convert them into more Cybermen. The Doctor, Sam, the Tylers, and the Preachers hatched a plan to infiltrate the factory and save the people before they could be changed. Pete and Jackie agreed to go in, pretending to be catatonic like the other Londoners. Harry, Jake, and Mickey ran off to take out the Zepplin, which was acting as a transmitter. And the Doctor, Sam, and Mrs. Moore resolved to sneak into the factory through the cooling tunnels.

The three of them climbed in. Since it was a cooling tunnel, it was cold. Sam wished he had his hoodie and not this thin waiter's coat. It was also dark. "Here," said Mrs. Moore, handing him, the Doctor, and herself a headlamp. "A device for every occasion."

"Wouldn't happen to have a hot dog in there, would you?" joked Sam. "I'm starving."

"Me too," agreed the Doctor, laughing.

Mrs. Moore shook her head, laughing along with them. "Of all the things to wish for: mechanically recovered meat."

"I know. It's the Cyberman of food, but it's tasty," agreed the Doctor.

"Especially with chili and cheese smeared on top," Sam reminisced.

"Oh, stop that, you're making it worse," said the Doctor, rubbing his tummy. "Now…let's see where we are."

Sam shined his head lamp down the hall…and jumped.

Lining the wall were Cybermen. They didn't react at all to the intruders. "Already converted, just put on ice," said the Doctor, tapping on the metal face plating of one of them. "Come on. Let's go slowly. Keep an eye out for trip systems."

As they walked along the narrow corridors, keeping one uneasy eye on the sleeping Cybermen, Sam asked Mrs. Moore, "How did you get into this, then, rattling along with the Preachers?"

"Oh, I used to be ordinary," she answered. "Worked at Cybus Industries, nine to five, till one day, I find something I'm not supposed to. A file on the mainframe. All I did was read it. Then suddenly I've got men with guns knocking in the middle of the night. Life on the run. Then I found the Preachers. They needed a techie, so I just sat down and taught myself everything."

"What about Mr. Moore?" the Doctor asked.

"Well, he's not called Moore ," said Mrs. Moore. "I got that from a book, 'Mrs. Moore'. It's safer not to use real names. But he thinks I'm dead. It was the only way to keep him safe. Him and the kids. What about you two? Got any family, or…?"

"Not me, mum," said Sam. "Foster child."

"And you, Doctor?"

"Oh, who needs family?" shrugged the Doctor. "We've got the whole world on our shoulders."

"It's really just the two of us," said Sam. "All we've got is each other."

In the dark, the Doctor hid a smile. "Go on, then, Mrs. Moore. What's your real name?"

She smiled. "Angela Price. Don't tell a soul."

"Not a word," replied the Doctor.

 

-

 

"I know this is going to be hard to believe, Doctor, but for once, I mean you no harm," said the Master, as the latest incarnation, the blonde cricket player, of his oldest rival approached, leaving behind his two companions at the moment, the Australian and a girl with dark curls who the Master vaguely recognized as the Doctor's own granddaughter, Susan.

"Like Alice, I always try to believe three impossible things before breakfast," said the Doctor, smiling a smile the Master knew wasn't sincere. "Go on."

"I've been sent by the High Council to help you," the Master stated.

"Have you, now?" the Doctor said, raising an eyebrow. "And what exactly did they offer you in return?

"You wound me, my dear Doctor. To assume that I would have to be bribed to give my assistance to an old friend."

"If you truly are an old friend, then you know that I know you too well to think you'd come here out of the goodness-" Here, the Doctor stifled a derisive laugh. "-of your heart. If you really were sent by the Council at all."

 

-

 

Suddenly, out of the corner of one eye, Sam thought he saw one of the Cybermen flinch. "Doctor, did that one just move?"

"It's just the torchlight. Keep going, come on."

Suddenly, the Cyberman in front of the Doctor turned its head to look at them. "They're waking up. Run!" yelled the Doctor.

 

-

 

"Be reasonable, Doctor," said the Master coolly.

"I am. I listened," said the ice prince.

The Master, tiring of the Doctor's insolence, when all he was doing was trying to help (this time), pulled out his TCE from the inner folds of his cloak. "As you see, I'm armed. I could easily kill you if I wanted to."

"And not humiliate me first? Oh, that's not your style at all," the Doctor shot back.

The Master next pulled out a small, yoyo-looking device. "I also have a recall device that will take me back to the conference room in the heart of the Capitol."

"So you say," said the Doctor dryly. "I would prefer more positive proof of your credentials."

The Master looked cross. "One of your other selves took it from me."

"Do you expect me to believe the fantastic tale you've just told?" the Doctor exclaimed.

"Doctor, look out!" the Australian girl cried from above the valley. "Cybermen!"

 

-

 

The three of them raced along the narrow corridor, as the Cybermen started waking up and falling in line behind them. At the end of the hallway, they reached a ladder leading up to a trapdoor in the ceiling. Sam barely made it through, the Cybermen right on his heels. The Doctor slammed the door shut on them and sealed the bulkhead with his sonic screwdriver.

"Oh, good team, Mrs. Moore, Sam," he said, grinning as he slipped his sonic back in his pocket.

 

-

 

"Go back!" the Doctor cried up to his associates. As the girls ran away, the Cybermen circled around the two Time Lords.

The Doctor stood at the Master's right, their arms barely brushing. Putting his hands in his pockets, the Doctor turned to the Master and said, almost pleasantly, "After you."

With a grin that lasted about a microsecond, the Master took off running, the Doctor at his heels.

"HALT! HALT! OR YOU WILL BE DESTROYED!" one of the Cybermen cried. He fired his gun and narrowly missed the Time Lords. Instead, his blast hit a large stone, causing it to break up into smaller chunks that flew everywhere, including right into the Master's skull, because he felt a sharp pain on his forehead, and then blacked out.

When he awoke, the Cybermen were standing around him, and the Doctor and the recall device were gone.

"This is not the Doctor," stated one of the Cybermen.

"Take him," commanded the Cyberleader.

Fine. If the Doctor wanted to spurn his goodwill and leave him to die, then two could play at the backstabbing game. The Master got to his feet and said to the Cybermen pleasantly, "Ah! I've been looking for you."

"Kill him!" ordered the Cyberleader.

The Master put up his hands in surrender. "I'm here as your friend," he explained.

"Who are you?" questioned the Cyberleader.

The man in black bowed. "I am the Master, and your loyal servant."

Chapter Text

The trio were congratulating themselves on a narrow escape, when all of a sudden, they turned around to find a Cyberman looming over them.

"Bloody terrific," sighed Sam.

"You are not upgraded," said the Cyberman.

"Yeah?" Mrs. Moore pulled a soup can-sized metal cylinder out of her bag of tricks. "Well, upgrade this." She lobbed it at the monster, which hit it square on the chest and stuck there. A surge of energy came out of the cylinder and zapped the Cyberman, causing it to convulse and fall down.

Sam applauded. "What was that?" exclaimed the Doctor.

"Electromagnetic bomb," said Mrs. Moore smugly. "Takes out computers. I figured it might take out a Cybersuit."

"You figured right," said the Doctor, kneeling down on the ground by the fallen Cyberman. "Now, let's take a look. Know your enemy." He pulled out his screwdriver and used it to unscrew the Cyberman's chestpiece. "There's a logo on the front. Lumic's turned them into a brand. Heart of steel, but look." The Doctor removed the piece to reveal a small hole into the monster's inner working. There were strange strands of a gooey, white, jelly like substance.

"What is it?" Sam asked. Then, he had a realization. "Oh God. Don't tell me it's…is it?"

"Shove a human, essentially a big sack of skin, inside a suit of metal…skin has to go somewhere," said the Doctor. He poked a finger at the goo.

"Stop that!" said Sam, slapping his hand away.

"Oh, but look," said the Doctor, indicating to a small silicon chip in the corner. "Emotional inhibitor. Stops them feeling anything."

"But why?" Mrs. Moore asked.

"Because it's still got a human brain," said the Doctor. "Imagine its reaction, if it could see what it had turned into…"

 

-

 

The Master watched from the shadows as the old man threw a coin at the electrified checkerboard floor. The coin was immediately zapped. The Master smiled to himself, in spite of the pain that was threatening to seize his heart again. He may be much, much older, but he'd know that man anywhere.

"Diabolical ingenuity!" remarked Theta, after throwing another coin. "Nothing happens until you reach the fifth row, half way, and then the entire board becomes a death trap."

"Our ancestors had such a wonderful sense of humor," said the Master, revealing himself from the shadows.

The first, the original, Doctor turned around. The Master watched the wizened blue eyes widen slightly in recognition, if only for a microsecond. Then, they turned cold and impassive. "Do I know you, young man?" he asked, pretending not to recognize his old best friend.

Fine, "Doctor". If you wanted to play the ignorant, the Master could play that game too. "Believe it or not, we were at the Academy together," he said vaguely.

"What do you want?" asked that Tegan girl, who was of course with him.

"To help," replied the Master.

Tegan let out a humorless bark of laughter. "That's the funniest thing I've heard all day."

"Believe what you like, I should advise you to hide," said the Master. "I've got very suspicious allies close behind me."

"Allies?" Suddenly, the sound of the Cybermen came from the round the corner. "Come on!" Tegan exclaimed, taking the Doctor's arm and dragging him out of sight.

As she did so, Theta and the Master simultaneously looked into each other's eyes. Theta let slip a distant, mournful look. Oh, Kos. Where did you go so wrong?

The Master found himself mentally ebbing away from that. In that one, tiny moment, the Master saw himself reflected in the old man's eyes. And he didn't recognize what he saw: a monster.

Maybe that was what drove him to betray the Cybermen.

 

-

 

"They'd go insane," said Sam sadly.

"Yes," said the Doctor. "Exactly."

"So they cut out the one thing that made them human," said Mrs. Moore.

"Because they have to," said the Doctor.

"Why…am I…cold?" groaned the Cyberman suddenly.

"Oh my God, he's still alive," said Mrs. Moore, eyes widening with fear.

"And it can feel," said Sam.

"We broke the inhibitor," said the Doctor. He looked down at the Cyberman. "I'm sorry. I'm so sorry."

"Why…so…cold?"

"Can you remember your name?" the Doctor asked.

"Sally…Sally Phelan."

Mrs. Moore looked stunned. "You're a woman?"

"Where's Gareth?"

"Who's Gareth?" asked Sam.

"He can't see me…it's unlucky, the night before."

Sam felt saddened. "You're getting married."

"I'm cold…I'm so cold."

"It's alright," said the Doctor, putting the tip of his screwdriver into her chest cavity. "You sleep now, Sally. Just go to sleep."

He turned the machine off, and the Cyberwoman fell asleep forever.

"Sally Phelan didn't die for nothing," said the Doctor quietly. "Because that's the key. The emotional inhibitor. If we could find the code behind it, the cancellation code, then feed it throughout the system into every Cyberman's head, they'd realize what they are."

"And what happens then?" Sam asked.

"I think it would kill them. Could we do that?" the Doctor asked.

"We've got to," Mrs. Moore decided. "Before they kill everyone else. There's no choice, Doctor. It's got to be done."

The all nodded. Mrs. Moore stood up. She didn't see the Cyberman standing behind her.

"Mrs. Moore, look out!" cried Sam.

Mrs. Moore screamed as the Cyberman grabbed her by her shoulders and electrocuted her. She fell on the floor, dead. "No, no, you didn't have to kill her!" exclaimed the Doctor.

"Sensors detect a binary vascular system. You are an unknown upgrade. You will be taken for analysis," said the Cyberman, as two more joined and surrounded them. "Your partner will be deleted."

"Sam, run!" the Doctor exclaimed.

Sam didn't want to leave the Doctor, but he had no choice. He ducked under the outstretched arms of the Cyberman to his right and raced down the corridor.

"Stop him," ordered the Cyberman.

Sam dashed away as fast as he could, breathing hard, blood pounding in his ears. He could hear the heavy footfalls of the bionic men behind him, and ran from them as hard as he could.

 

-

 

After what seemed like hours of running and hiding, Sam met up with Jake and Mickey inside some sort of control room. "Oi, Harry! No, wait, you're the other one," said Jake. "Makes things real difficult, you know that?"

"Enough," said Harry, coming around the corner. He looked at his twin. "Is the Doctor with you?"

"No," gasped Sam. "The Cybermen took him."

"Bloody brilliant," grumbled Harry. "And Mrs. Moore?"

Sam looked down. "Gone. They killed her."

Harry slammed his fist against the desk. "Dammit!" he growled. "Alright…let's just find the transmitter controls and shut this thing down."

"They're here," said Mickey, looking at a steel box mounted on the wall. "But they're sealed up tight in there. We'd need an oxyacetylene torch or something."

At that moment, the Cybermen burst in. "There he is."

"Oh, and you brought the troops straight to us! You're a bloody genius, you are!" exclaimed Harry, smacking Sam in the head.

"Wait! I have an idea." Sam whistled to the Cyberman. "Oi! You want us? Come get us."

The head Cyberman tromped over. It raised its fist and prepared to seize Sam, but he jumped out of the way at the last moment. The Cyberman instead smashed the control box, electrocuting itself and disabling the earpieces.

Harry looked at Sam, mildly impressed. "Not bad, chavo."

"Oi? 'Chavo'? What about you, Bond wanna be?" Sam tossed back, grinning.

"Am I the only one finding this really freaky?" Jake muttered to Mickey, looking from one Harry/Sam to the other.

"Not in the slightest," Mickey replied.

"Okay," said Harry. "That's taken care of. Now all we have to do is take out the Cybers, and we're done here."

"And find the Doctor," added Sam.

"Right. Now, Mick, can you hack the security cams and find the Doctor?"

"Already doing it," said Mickey, at the computer. "He's in Lumic's office, with the Tylers. He's alive."

"Knew he would be," said Sam, grinning at the image. "Nothing kills that old weasel."

"The hell is that thing?" Harry asked, pointing to a huge mass of machinery in the corner. "Mickey, turn on the sound."

Mickey punched in a few buttons on the keyboard, and then they heard through the speakers: "I will bring peace to the world. Everlasting peace. And unity. And uniformity."

"And imagination?" The Doctor shot back. "What about that? The one thing that led you here, imagination, you're killing it dead!"

"What is your name?" the Cyberleader asked.

"I'm the Doctor," he declared.

"A redundant title. Doctors need not exist. Cybermen never sicken."

"Yeah, but that's it. That's exactly the point!" exclaimed the Doctor. "Oh, Lumic, you're a clever man. I'd call you a genius, except I'm in the room. But everything you've invented, you did to fight your sickness. And that's brilliant. That is so human. But once you get rid of sickness and mortality, then what's there to strive for, eh? The Cybermen won't advance. You'll just stop. You'll stay like this forever. A metal Earth with metal men and metal thoughts, lacking the one thing that makes this planet so alive. People. Ordinary, stupid, brilliant people."

"You are proud of your emotions."

"Oh, yes," said the Doctor.

"Then tell me, Doctor. Have you known grief, and rage, and pain?"

The Doctor paused, and suddenly, even through the pixelation of the CCTV, Sam could see the old man behind those young, fresh, brown cow eyes. "Yes," said the Doctor. "Yes, I have."

"And they hurt?"

"Oh, yes," said the Doctor.

"I could set you free. Would you not want that? A life without pain?"

"You might as well kill me," said the Doctor. "Because life is nothing without pain or loss…or love."

 

-

 

Here they were, at the end of the Game. The Master watched as the Doctors sorted out Rassilon's puzzle, and he/they had done very well. The current one, the blonde one with the ridiculous stalk of celery on his coat, was absent, but there was the rude dandy who had stolen his Seal, along with a short one with dark hair and shabby clothes that the Master had never encountered before, but could only assume was the Second Doctor, and of course, Theta.

"Whoever takes the ring from Rassilon's hand and puts it on shall get the reward he seeks," the Dandy was saying.

"What reward?" asked the girl who had come in with the Dandy. The Master thought he had heard the Doctor call her "Sarah Jane".

"Immortality," replied Theta.

"What, live forever? Never die?" asked Brigadier Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart, who had come with the Second Doctor, the Hobo Clown.

"That is what the word means, young man," replied Theta.

"But that's impossible," said Sarah Jane, and the Master had to shake his head at the closemindedness of these apes.

"Apparently not," replied the Dandy.

"It seems Rassilon possesses it now, and is willing to share it with whoever takes the ring," declared the Hobo.

"Thank you, gentlemen, that is exactly what I needed to know," said the Master, sweeping out of the shadows, making his presence known. "I came here to help you. A little unwillingly, but I came. My services were scorned, my help refused. Now I shall help myself to immortality."

"Out of the question," decreed Theta.

"You're hardly a suitable candidate," sneered the Dandy.

"For anything," added the Hobo.

The Master ignored the pang in his heart as the amalgamation of his old friend ganged up on him. He drew his TCE on the three of him. "The decision is scarcely yours. Killing you once was never enough for me, Doctor. How, how gratifying to do it three times over!"

"Nice to see you again," exclaimed the Brigadier from behind him, and he barely had time to turn around and look before being knocked out cold. Again.

 

-

 

"Then I take that option," the Cyber Controller was saying.

"It's not yours to take," shouted the Doctor. "You're a Cyber Controller. You don't control me or anything with blood in its heart!"

"You have no means of stopping me. I have an army. A species of my own."

The Doctor shook his head in exasperation. "You just don't get it, do you? An army's nothing. Because those ordinary people, they're the key. The most ordinary person could change the world. Anyone can be a lion, or a tiger…or a Wolf."

Sam looked up in surprise at the word.

"All they'd have to do is enter the right numbers, the right codes…," the Doctor continued. "Say for example, the code for the emotional inhibitor. The code right in front of him."

Sam gasped.

"Computers are so simple these days, even an animal like a Wolf could use it. Could find something encrypted in the Lumic Family Database, under Binary…what was it again, Pete?"

"Binary Nine," Pete Tyler promptly replied.

"Right, yeah, Binary Nine," said the Doctor. "A Wolf could find that code. Cancellation code. Because the thing about Wolves are, is that they're incredibly loyal. You could put your faith in a Wolf. They never ever let you down. They never give up until they've saved the day…"

"What's he on about, 'wolves'?" said Harry.

Sam grinned at him. "Hand me that keyboard. Sam Tyler, Bad Wolf."

As the Doctor continued to babble on, Sam furiously typed at the keyboard. Mickey helped him with the hacking a bit, but Sam found he was naturally good with computers anyway. "Got it!" Sam exclaimed. "6-8-7-9-7-6-0! If I ever get out of the world saving biz, I should go pro."

"Yeah, yeah, pat yourself on the back later," said Harry. "What now?"

"People always tell me I talk too much," the Doctor was saying the screen. "Good thing I have this unlimited minutes deal on my mobile." He whipped out Sam's cellular.

"He wants us to text him the code!" said Sam. "Quick, someone, give me your phone."

Harry handed his over, and Sam frantically texted the numbers to his cell. On screen, the phone in the Doctor's hand bleeped. "Ooh, I've got mail!" he said. "Here, I'll forward the message to you all-like this." He plugged Sam's phone into the mainframe.

Suddenly, there was a crackle of energy in all the Cybermen, and they grabbed their heads as their emotional inhibitors broke. Lumic was defeated.

"It worked!" Harry cried. "We did it!" The foursome cheered and hugged and high-fived.

 

-

 

"Doctor!" cried Sam, rushing toward the skinny brunette, hugging him tightly. "Oh, thank God. I thought we were all goners!"

"Nah, not me," said the Doctor, grinning. "I had faith in my Wolf."

Sam was glad it was dark so he could hide his blush.

"Mum! Dad!" A blonde girl in pink came running out of the crowds towards the Tylers.

"Rose!" cried Jackie as she and her husband gratefully hugged their daughter. "Oh, thank God! I thought you were dead!" She burst into grateful tears.

Pete turned to the Doctor, Sam, and the rest of the Preachers. "Thank you," he said hoarsely, as if trying to hold back tears. "You saved all our lives. If there's anything we can do for you…"

"Well," said the Doctor. "If you've a bedroom or two to spare at that mansion of yours, our ship's still out of order…"

 

-

 

The next morning, the Tylers and the Preachers said goodbye to Sam and the Doctor as they prepared to board the newly healed TARDIS. "Are you sure you won't stay, Doctor?" said Pete. "We might need you again."

"I can't," said the Doctor, shaking his head. "We have our own universe to protect. Besides…" He looked around at Pete, Jackie, Rose, Harry, Jake, and Mickey. "It seems this world already has a team of defenders." The Doctor smiled and headed inside.

Harry stood beside Sam and watched the Doctor go. He whistled. "Smart…funny…and a nice little bum too. You're a lucky man, Tyler."

Sam rolled his eyes. "We are not together!"

"Oh trust me, you are," said Harry, smirking. "Hang on to him, Sam. He's a great man."

"Yeah," agreed Sam. He smiled. "He is." He shook his look alike's hand. "Maybe we'll meet again someday. In any case, it was an honor to meet you, Harry…what was your last name again?"

"Saxon," said Harry, shaking his hand. "Harold Saxon."

"Well, it was an honor to meet you, Harold Saxon," said Sam, grinning. He turned and headed inside the TARDIS.

The Doctor was leaning on the console. "So…not staying?"

"No," said Sam, confused. "Why would I?"

"Well, your family's here," said the Doctor.

Sam shook his head. "No. They're not. They're nice people and all, but they're not my family." He smiled at the Doctor. "Besides, I think one Sam Tyler's enough for a universe, don't you?"

The Doctor laughed and turned to the controls. As he did so, Sam noticed something: Harry was right.

The Doctor did have a nice bum.

Chapter Text

Sam Tyler, the Doctor thought to himself one day, was one of the best things that had ever happened to him. Having him around numbed the pain and loneliness of being the last Time Lord in existence. Sam was like a comet soaring over a night sky, illuminating everything for the Doctor. And it was good.

But the Doctor did worry about Sam sometimes. He seemed distracted on occasion, staring off into space. One day, the Doctor caught Sam tapping out a rhythm with his fingers. "Sam? You alright?"

"What?" Sam looked up confusedly. The tapping stopped. "Oh…yeah. I'm fine."

"You were a million miles away," said the Doctor. "Which isn't far, in the TARDIS, but…still."

"Oh, no, no." Sam waved a hand at him. "Everything's fine."

So there were those instances. But otherwise, life was good for him. The Doctor, in the TARDIS, with Sam Tyler.

Very good.

 

-

 

They had landed in New York, approximately in 1958. The Doctor followed Sam out of the TARDIS, his companion sporting his old leather jacket over a white tee, blue jeans, and black combat boots. "Do you like it?" asked Sam. "I'm the Fonz! Ayyyy." He shot pistol fingers at the Doctor.

"I like it," said the Doctor, grinning. He was still in his usual brown pinstripe suit, but he had combed his hair back into a Teddy boy. "That jacket looks really good on you. You should keep it."

"You think? Well, maybe. Anyway, I figured we'd be going for more Vegas-era," said Sam, looking around the scene. "You know, white flares, chest hair, the jelly gut."

"You're kidding, aren't you?" said the Doctor, "You want to see Elvis, this is the time you shoot for. The time before burgers, when they called him "the Pelvis" and he still had a waist." He heard Sam laugh as he ducked inside the TARDIS. He strapped on a white helmet and mounted the moped he'd dug out for the occasion. "What's more, you see him in style!" He revved the engine and drove the bike out onto the street.

Sam laughed some more. "Where the hell did you get that?"

The Doctor shrugged. "Ah, it's the TARDIS. What can I say?" He tossed Sam a black helmet and patted the back of his seat. "Hop on."

"What? With you?" Sam's cheeks turned pink. "Er, don't you think that'll look a little…strange?"

The Doctor shrugged. "Dunno. Do you care?"

Sam hesitated. "No," he finally said, putting on the helmet. He carefully swung a leg over the bike and settled himself behind the Doctor. He could feel the warmth of the other's man chest through the fabric of his suit.

The Doctor turned and grinned at him. "You goin' my way, man?"

Sam rolled his eyes, but the Doctor saw that he was still blushing. "Yeah, yeah, let's go, daddy-o." The Doctor laughed and stepped on the gas. Sam instinctive grabbed his shoulders as they took off, and the Doctor noted that he didn't let go.

"So, where are we off to?" Sam called into his ear.

"Ed Sullivan TV Studios," the Doctor called back. "Elvis did "Hound Dog" on one of the shows. There were loads of complaints. Bit of luck, we'll just catch it."

"Never been to New York before," commented Sam. "Well, not the original, anyway." He grinned at him, and the Doctor knew they were both thinking of New Earth, their first trip together with the Doctor in this body.

"It's a great place, Sam, ol' boy," said the Doctor. "I'll be sure to bring you again some time." Suddenly, the Doctor had to slam on the brakes on a red double decker bus passed by.

"What's that doing here?" the Doctor wondered aloud.

"Hey, Doctor, look." Sam pointed to a red phone booth sitting on the sidewalk. Then they noticed that there were banners and Union Jacks hanging all around.

Sam chortled. "Dig that New York vibe, man."

"Well, this could still be New York," the Doctor reasoned, looking around at the flags in confusion. "I mean, this looks like New York to me. Sort of London-y New York, mind…"

"What are all the flags for?" Sam asked.

"Dunno," said the Doctor, pulling his bike over and turning it off. "Let's ask these gents here."

There were several men gathered around a van, unloading something from its back end. The Doctor and Sam walked over just in time to overhear a man in a tan jacket say, "There you go, sir, all wired up for the great occasion."

"'The great occasion'? What do you mean?" the Doctor asked him.

"Where've you been livin', out in the colonies?" said the man, closing his back doors. "Coronation, o' course."

"And what coronation is that, then?" the Doctor said.

The man stared at him in disbelief. "What do you mean? The coronation."

Sam lightly smacked the back of his head. "The Queen's, idiot. Queen Elizabeth."

"Oh! Is this 1953?" The Doctor said, brightening.

The man chuckled. "Last time I checked."

Sam shook his head and clicked his tongue. "Call yourself a Time Lord."

"Time for a lovely bit of pomp and circumstance, what we do best," continued the man, smiling.

Sam was looking around at all the antennae on the roofs and chimneys on the houses. "Look at all the TV aerials," he said. "Looks like everyone's got one. That's weird. I read that tellies were so rare they all had to pile into one house."

"Not around here, son," said the man proudly. "Magpie's Marvelous Tellies, only five quid a pop." He patted the side of his van.

"Oh, but this is a brilliant year!" exclaimed the Doctor. "Classic! Technicolor, Everest climbed, everything off the ration. The nation throwing off the shadows of war and looking forward to a happier, brighter future," he said, imitating Winston Churchill.

Suddenly, they heard a scream. "Someone help me, please! Ted!" a woman cried.

"What were you saying?" Sam asked him.

Down the street, there was a black van, still running, parked outside a house. Two men were loading something into it, wrapped up in a blanket. The Doctor noted, uncomfortably, that it was human shaped. An anguished-looking woman stood in the doorway of the house, yelling, "He's my husband! Leave him alone, please!"

The Doctor and Sam rushed down there. "What's going on?" demanded the Doctor. The two men ignored him and the woman's pleas as they tossed the "package" inside their car. "Oi, what are you doing?!" the Doctor shouted.

"Police business, sir, now get out of the way," commanded one of the men.

A boy from the house across the street was running over to investigate as well. "Who did they take?" Sam asked. "Do you know him?"

The boy looked at the "package", then at the desperate woman. "Must be Mister Gallagher," he said, also looking unhappy. He looked at them as the men got inside their car and left. "It's happening all over the place…they're turning into monsters."

"Tommy!" The three of them looked up to see a beefy man with a black mustache glaring at the boy from the stoop of the boy's house. "Not one word! Get inside now," he ordered.

Tommy looked nervous. "Sorry," he said. "Better do what he says." He turned and dashed inside.

The Doctor watched the car drive away. "C'mon, Sam! After 'em!"

They hopped back on the bike and chased after the car. But eventually, the policemen shook them off. "Men in black?" the Doctor wondered out loud. "Vanishing police cars? This is Churchill's England, not Stalin's Russia!"

 

-

 

The Doctor should have never left Sam alone.

He stared disheartenedly at the figure in the boots, jeans, white tee, and leather jacket, his leather jacket. The heart shaped face, the unkempt light brown hair…

But no face. Those friendly hazel eyes, that disarming grin…it was gone. He might as well have been one of those posable mannequins artists use to practice sketching figures.

"Sam," the Doctor whispered.

"You know him?" Detective Inspector Bishop asked.

"Know him? He…" The Doctor didn't know what to say.

The person who had once been Sam Tyler just stood there, silent to the bone, his face just a plain scape of flesh. The Doctor's hearts beat loudly in his ears. Was Sam aware of what was going on right now? How did he feel? Frightened? Alone? Cold? Dark? Could he feel his Doctor there in front of him? Was he even…alive?

Oh, Sam, thought the Doctor. Why did it have to be you? I'm so sorry.

"They found 'im in the street, apparently, in Leichster Square, abandoned," the Doctor vaguely heard the officers saying behind his back. They said some other stuff, the Doctor caught something mentioned about "Torchwood", or something of that nature, but he didn't really care about anything else.

"They did what?" the Doctor said.

"I'm sorry?"

"They left him where?" said the Doctor, gritting his teeth.

"Just…in the street," said the DI.

"In the street," repeated the Doctor slowly, his voice dangerously quiet. "They left him in the street. They took his face, and just chucked him out and left him in the street. And as a result, that makes things simple, very, very, simple. Do you know why?" he asked, turning around and taking off his spectacles. "Because now, Detective Inspector Bishop, there is no power on this Earth that can stop me! Come on!" he shouted, charging out the door.

 

-

 

He pulled up a bunch of faces on the television sets in Magpie's shop. A dozen different faces, stolen from the poor victims.

The boy, Tommy, stared at one toward the center, of a wizened old lady, clearly crying out "Help me". But the boxes were silent, to where no one could hear their pleas. "Gran?" he said.

The Doctor spotted a familiar face on one box near the floor. It was heart shaped, and it had soulful, fearful eyes seeming to stare out at him. It was Sam, and there was only one word on his scared lips.

Doctor.

He knelt down and touched the set soothingly, as if it were the real man, as if he could actually comfort him. "I'm on my way," he whispered.

 

-

 

After they defeated the evil Wire, the Doctor and Tommy rushed out into the street to see that the faceless individuals that the police had rounded up had been released, their souls re-intact. Among them was Tommy's gran, and a certain man in a leather jacket.

The Doctor smiled so hard, he thought his face would crack, at the sight of Sam standing there, alive and well, grinning right back at him. Right now, the whole country of England was rejoicing the advent of their new Queen. But the Doctor was joyous for a whole different reason.

The moment their eyes connected, Sam and the Doctor ran at each other, hugging tightly, as if they hadn't seen one another in centuries. And for the Doctor, that's what it felt like.

 

-

 

"Ah, good to be home, yeah?" said the Doctor, when they went back to the TARDIS.

"Definitely," agreed Sam, grinning.

"So, back there…you didn't get all…weird about hugging another man in public," the Doctor mentioned casually.

Sam shrugged. "Yeah, well…it's a new world. New monarch, new age. In about forty or fifty years, things on this planet are gonna change." He smiled. "I guess I'm just gettin' a head start."

The Doctor grinned. "You know, you never cease to amaze me, Sam Tyler. That's what I love about you."

Sam paused at that last sentence for a moment, then smiled cautiously. "Well…thanks, Doctor. You're pretty amazing yourself."

"Well, then, I guess that's why we make such a great team," said the Doctor, as he opened the door to the TARDIS. "Just two brilliant people, exploring the universe together."

"And that's the way it should be."

 

-

 

Things for the Doctor and Sam were good. But the Doctor noticed that with every adventure, each passing day, the presence of this funny little human was stirring things deep inside him. Things, feelings, that hadn't seen the light of day...for a very, very long time.

And the Doctor didn't quite know how to feel about that.

Chapter Text

The Doctor had really flubbed up this time. He'd trapped himself, and more importantly, Sam, on this impossible planet. "I'm so sorry," he murmured to his companion.

Sam faked a smile and shrugged. "Don't worry about me, mate."

Then, suddenly, the station shook. Sam gave the Doctor an uneasy look out of the corner of his eye. "Er…maybe you should worry about me a little."

The Doctor smiled at him sadly. Sam hesitantly went in for a hug, which the Doctor gladly reciprocated. He could feel Sam's heart beat against his chest, smell the woodsy, human scent of his hair. It felt good and reassuring.

Because sometimes, even the Oncoming Storm needs someone.

 

-

 

They were sitting in the main area, across from each other, at a dinner table. The Doctor was staring intently at the black hole above them. Sam sighed. "I've seen films and things," he said. "They say black holes are like gateways to another universe."

"Not that one. It just eats," said the Doctor.

"Long way from home," Sam commented.

The Doctor looked at him from across the table. Then he pointed to the sky. "Go that way. Turn right, keep going for about…five hundred years, and you'll reach the Earth."

Sam gave out a humorless chuckle. Then he thought of something. He pulled out his phone and checked it. "No signal. That's the first time we've gone out of range…" He looked at the Doctor. "We're really stuck. Aren't we?"

The Doctor slowly nodded.

Sam nodded back, resolutely. "Well, it could be worse. This lot said they'd give us a lift."

"And then what?" the Doctor asked.

Sam shrugged. "Dunno. Find a planet, get a job, live a life. Same as the rest of the universe, eh?"

"I'd have to settle down," the Doctor realized. Sam laughed quietly at him. "Get a house or something. A proper house with, with doors and things. Carpets. Me, living in a house! Now that, that is terrifying."

"You'd have to get a mortgage," teased Sam.

"No!"

"Oh, yes!"

"I'm dying!" said the Doctor, holding his hands up. "That's it. I'm dying. It is all over."

"What about me? I'd have to get one, too," said Sam. "Have to get a job, and God knows I haven't got any skills. I'm not smart or anything."

"Oh, shut up, you're brilliant," said the Doctor.

"No, I'm not."

"Yes, you are."

Sam shook his head, smiling. "I don't know…but, you know…it could be easier on both of us…if we…"

The Doctor looked at him. "What?"

"Oh, you know…" Sam looked at his lap. "Lived…with each other. I mean, like, together. I mean, you know, not together together-"

"No."

"Definitely not."

"Never."

Sam coughed awkwardly. "But it might be fun…having a roommate. Never had a proper one before."

"I did, once," said the Doctor, before he knew what he was even saying.

Sam looked up quickly. "You did?"

"Er, yeah," said the Doctor. "Long time ago. When I was in school."

"What was his name?" asked Sam.

The Doctor looked off into the distance. Remembering…longing. "It doesn't matter. It was a long time ago," he said softly. "In any case…he's long gone."

Sam cautiously reached out and touched his hand. "I'm sorry," he whispered.

The Doctor turned back and smiled at Sam. "S'okay. Got you now anyway."

Sam was glad of the reddish light of the room, because he felt his cheeks heat up. He pulled his hand away. "Yeah, well…we're a team. We should stick together."

"Not stuck here, though," said the Doctor.

"Yeah, but stuck with you?" Sam shrugged awkwardly. "That's not so bad."

"Yeah?" said the Doctor, surprised.

Sam looked at him with serious hazel eyes. "Yes."

 

-

 

The drilling stopped. They'd reached Point Zero.

The Doctor volunteered to go with Ida to explore the planet outside. "Orange isn't a bad color on you," joked Sam as the Doctor, in a space suit, prepared to load the lift. "But I think I like the brown better…I want that spacesuit back in one piece, you got that?"

The Doctor saluted. "Yes, sir," he joked back, putting on his helmet.

"It's funny…" said Sam. "People back home think that space travel's going to be all whizzing about and teleports and anti gravity. But it's not. It's hard. It's really hard."

The Doctor smiled at him through the plastic guard of his helmet. "I'll see you later."

Sam grinned, pulling the Doctor into an unexpected (but very welcome) hug. "Not if I see you first."

 

-

 

The Doctor prepared to undo his clip, to fall into the devil's pit. He didn't know how far down it was. It could be five feet, it could be five miles. It was too dark to see.

"Ida," he said. "If they get back in touch…if you talk to Sam… just tell him…tell him I…"

The Doctor sighed. "Oh, he knows."

 

-

 

When the Doctor reached the bottom of the pit, he found a great horned beast, all chained up. "You were imprisoned, long time ago," the Doctor reasoned. "Before the universe, after, sideways, in between, doesn't matter. The prison is perfect. It's absolute, it's eternal. Oh, yes! Open the prison, the gravity field collapses. This planet falls into the black hole! You escape, you die. Brilliant! But that's just the body. The body is trapped, that's all. The devil is an idea. In all those civilizations, just an idea. But an idea is hard to kill. An idea could escape. The mind. The mind of the great Beast. The mind can escape! Oh, but that's it! You didn't give me air, your jailers did. They set this up all those years ago! They need me alive, because if you're escaping, then I've got to stop you. If I destroy your prison, your body is destroyed. Your mind with it!"

The Doctor grabbed up a rock from the ground to smash the urns. Then, he paused. He dropped the rock.

"But then you're clever enough to use this whole system against me," he said. "If I destroy this planet, I destroy the gravity field. The rocket. The rocket loses protection and falls into the black hole."

The Doctor swallowed. He felt his hearts drop. "I have to sacrifice Sam."

He turned around and looked at the beast. "So, that's the trap. Or the test, or the final judgment, I don't know. But if I kill you, I kill him. Except that implies in this big grand scheme of gods and devils that he's just a victim. But I've seen a lot of this universe. I've seen fake gods and bad gods and demi-gods and would-be gods, and out of all that, out of that whole pantheon, if I believe in one thing...just one thing."

The Doctor took a deep breath. "I believe in him," he said.

And then he smashed the urn.

 

-

 

When the Doctor saw Sam again, he hugged him so tightly, he thought his bones would splinter. He never wanted to let go.

"Urgh…Doctor? Um, a little tight!" gasped Sam. The Doctor loosened his grip, but didn't let go of the other man. Not for a moment. "Got quite a grip there, skinny bones," Sam teased.

The Doctor grinned and ruffled his scruffy brown hair. "You did it! Told you you were brilliant!"

"Oi, you did it too," laughed Sam. "S'like I said, Doctor: we're a team."

"But Doctor," said Ida over the comm. "You never said…who are you two?"

"Oh…" The Doctor grinned at Sam. "The stuff of legend."

Chapter Text

The Doctor opened the door of the TARDIS and stepped out. Or tried to, anyway, but found himself nose to nose with the side of a blue cargo container. "Ah," he said.

"Problem, Doctor?" Sam asked as the Doctor retreated back inside.

"Oh, just have to turn the TARDIS about 90 degrees to the right," said the Doctor, punching a few button on the console. There was the familiar mechanical wheezing as the machine de-and-rematerialized. "Got us trapped up against a wall."

"Hmm, now there's an interesting idea," Sam mused, grinning to himself.

"What?" the Doctor asked, turning to look at him curiously.

"Huh? Oh, nothing. Anyway, where are we?" Sam asked quickly as he followed the Doctor outside. He spied a Shayne Ward poster on the wall. "Earth, then. Present day?"

"Near future, actually," said the Doctor. "I had a passing fancy, only it didn't pass. It stopped. London, 2012. Thirtieth Olympiad."

Sam looked up and saw an Olympic banner hanging over the street they were standing in. "Alright!" exclaimed Sam. "Now this is what I'm talking about."

"Thought you might like it," the Doctor grinned as they walked down the street together, side by side, the long hem of the Doctor's brown coat flapping in the wind. "Just a couple of boys, getting together for a day of sport. I've always loved the Olympics, ever since the original. Only seems like yesterday a few naked Greek blokes were tossing a discus about, wrestling each other in the sand with crowds stood around baying. No, wait a minute, that was Club Med."

Sam laughed.

"Just in time for the opening doo-dah, ceremony, tonight, I thought you'd like that," the Doctor continued. "Last one they had in London was dynamite. Wembley, 1948. I loved it so much, I went back and watched it all over again. Fella carrying the torch. Lovely chap, what was his name…"

Sam spotted a man standing on the sidewalk, posting a piece of paper on a light pole. As the man walked away, Sam left the Doctor's side and went over to inspect it. "Doctor," he said.

The Doctor wasn't listening. "Did you ever have those little cakes with the crunchy, edible ball bearings? They were brilliant-"

"Doctor, I really think you should look at this!" Sam called.

The Doctor was shaken out of his reverie. "What? Huh?" He came over and joined Sam.

There were two missing child posters tied to the light post.

"What's taking them, do you think?" asked Sam.

"Dunno," said the Doctor, shrugging his bony shoulders. "Children disappear all the time. Sure it's nothing."

"I dunno," said Sam, shaking his head. "Two from the same street? Within…" He consulted the notices. "Two days? Don't you find that a bit odd?"

"Hmm. Now that you say it, it is weird," said the Doctor. He looked around the neighborhood. "Snatching children from a thoroughly ordinary street like this. And why's it so cold? Is someone reducing the temperature?"

Sam shrugged his black hoodie closer to his body. "Why would a person do this?"

"Maybe it's not a person at all," said the Doctor darkly.

 

-

 

Sam and the Doctor had been investigating the neighborhood where children and animals were disappearing as if by magic. Dark magic. The Doctor deduced that they were being transported to somewhere. So the only logical thing to do was to try and find where they were being taken.

Sam had been trying to find where an orange tomcat had been teleported to, when he heard a loud thump coming from a garage, followed by an even bigger thump. "Not gonna open it, not gonna open it…ah, screw it," he said, and opened the garage door.

Suddenly, something flew out at him and knocked him to the ground. It beat at him, like a giant moth's wings against a light fixture.

Sam managed to get a look at it. It was…well. It looked like a giant tumbleweed made out of blackish-grey material.

"What the hell?" Sam muttered, trying to shield his face, torso, and groin from the thing at the same time.

"I got you, I got you! Stay still!" Sam caught sight of something brown and skinny in his peripheral vision. The Doctor took out his sonic screwdriver and aimed it at the…whatever it was. Suddenly, it shrunk down to slightly smaller than a baseball and landed harmlessly in Sam's hands.

"Okey dokey?" The Doctor asked.

"Yeah," said Sam, accepting the Doctor's outstretched hand. "What is this thing?" he asked, staring at the small ball in his hand.

"Dunno," said the Doctor, taking it from him. He tossed it up in the air, then rapped at it with his knuckles inquisitively. Then he sniffed it. "Smells familiar. Here."

Sam took it and smelled it too. "Yeah. Like…like…wait." He marched over to where a missing poster was hanging on a mailbox, tore it off, and swept the ball across the back of the page. It left a large, silvery-grey marking. "It's graphite," said Sam, tossing the ball back to the Doctor. "It's pencil lead."

"Flying pencil lead attacked you? Why?" said the Doctor, looking at the ball of graphite quizzically. "Well, whatever it is, it's animated by energy. Same energy that's snatching people. That is so dinky! The go anywhere creature. Fits in your pocket, makes friends, impresses the boss, breaks the ice at parties."

"Yeah, but look at the shape," said Sam. "Doesn't it look like when you write something, then scratch it out? Like a pencil scribble, but 3D."

"Good point," said the Doctor. "But why would someone generate scribble creatures?"

Sam shrugged. "Maybe it was a mistake. Like on a…drawing. Like on a child's drawing," he said slowly, as realization washed over him. "Of course! Who would take children? Another child."

"Oh, ho-ho-ho," the Doctor laughed deeply. "Sam Tyler, you are beautiful."

Sam grinned. "So all we have to do," he continued, "is find the little artist that lives on this street, and we have our suspect."

"And you have an idea?" the Doctor asked.

Sam thought for a moment. "Well…" He turned the flyer over. "This Dale kid. He was taken from this address." He pointed to the last place the child had been seen. "So all we have to do is peruse the houses around there. And I'm willing to bet that the child we're looking for lives right across the street."

"Let's see…that's where that nervous Trish woman lived," said the Doctor.

"Maybe we should pay her a visit."

The Doctor threw an arm around Sam's shoulders. "And you said you weren't brilliant."

"It was elementary, my dear Doctor."

 

-

 

They found Chloe Webber, and talked to the Isolus within her. "How did you know it was so lonely?" Sam asked.

"Fear, loneliness. They're the big ones, Sam," said the Doctor, putting together pieces of the gizmo that would help him locate the Isolus's pod. "Some of the most terrible acts ever committed have been inspired by them. We're not dealing with something that wants to conquer or destroy. There's a lot of things you need to get across this universe. Warp drive, wormhole refractors. You know the thing you need most of all? You need a hand to hold. Because believe me. I know…" The Doctor plugged in one last circuit. "What it's like to travel alone."

 

-

 

The Master knew loneliness.

There was the loneliness Koschei felt before he ever met his best friend Theta Sigma. Then there was the loneliness of being surrounded completely by people, his classmates, but knowing there was none among them who gave a damn about him. But then he made friends with Theta, and Koschei was happier than he'd ever been in his whole life.

"What's wrong?" Thete asked him one day.

"I was just…thinking. Dreading," amended Koschei.

"Dreading what?" asked Theta, grinning. "We're going home for the semester break. No stupid professors, no homework, no exams-"

"No you," said Kos glumly.

Theta smiled sadly and took his hand. "Come home with me then."

"What?" said Kos confusedly.

Theta shrugged. "Sure. Why not? After all, it's about time my parents met the man I'm going to be bonded to someday."

Kos leaned into his love, smiling gratefully. "Alright, I will."

Then, some years later, Theta left him, and the Master felt an empty kind of loneliness. The kind one feels when something or someone they deeply love and need is taken from them. It stayed with him for a hundred years, until Theta returned. But by that time, he was getting married to someone else, someone not Koschei, and the Master's world turned dark and cold, the way it would for someone who didn't have someone to love them. The loneliness ate at him so much, it turned into anger. It only got worse as the Master and the Doctor bitterly fought against each other time and time again.

The worst was when the Master's Time Lord body was dying, and the Doctor didn't even care. Or the endless decades spent in the recesses of the Eye of Harmony in the Doctor's TARDIS, which drove him truly mad. Or maybe it was during the War, when the Master didn't know whether the Doctor was alive or dead. Because damn that cursed Time Lord, after all they had suffered through, the Master  still  loved him. He needed him.

A cosmos without the Doctor scarcely bore thinking about.

One day, the Master couldn't take it any longer. He threw down his weapon, went to his TARDIS. He pulled out an old watch.

"I'm sorry, Thete," he whispered. "I can't do it anymore."

 

-

 

"That's…so sad," said Sam softly, feeling his heart throb.

The Doctor looked up. He concernedly put a hand on Sam's shoulder. "Hey, hey, I'm okay. Don't look so upset. Really, I'm fine."

Sam shook his head slightly. "Oh. Yeah. Of course."

The Doctor smiled at him, then continued his work.

 

-

 

Sam listened desperately through the door as Trish and Chloe cowered from Chloe's nightmare father.

"I'm here, Chloe!" exclaimed Trish. "You're not alone! You'll never be alone again."

Then, the mother began to sing to her daughter, and the beast went away.

Sam sighed with relief.

 

-

 

Sam felt panic when the Isolus took the Doctor. He knew they would succeed, but there was always a part of him that was scared.

It only intensified when the Doctor didn't reappear with the TARDIS or the other children.

"Maybe he's gone somewhere," said Trish, trying to comfort Sam.

Sam looked at his lap sadly. "Who's going to hold his hand now?"

But then Sam saw the skinny idiot running with the Olympic Torch and felt his heart leap-in a good way. The Doctor was alright and all was well.

That didn't stop him from punching him in the arm when he saw him later. Hard.

"Ow!" exclaimed the Doctor.

"What the hell where you thinking? I was worried sick, you bloody idiot!" Sam scolded. He tried to glare at his traveling companion, but his frown was losing to the relieved smile that was trying to invade his face. Finally, he gave up and hugged the Time Lord tightly. "I thought I'd lost you," he muttered.

"Nah, can't get rid of me," laughed the Doctor.

"Good," said Sam. They still weren't pulling apart. "You know," he said, "they keep trying to split us up, but they never will."

"It seems we must always meet again," the Doctor agreed, ruffling Sam's hair.

Sam had to bite back the urge to say, They do say opposites attract. "You and me, Doctor. Until the End of Time."

The Doctor laughed, and before he knew what he was doing, he cupped the other man's face and dropped a brief, friendly kiss on Sam's forehead.

Sam seized up. His face, neck, and ears flushed absolutely scarlet. "Uh…I'm s-sorry," stammered the Doctor.

Sam swallowed and nodded, wordlessly turning around and heading toward the TARDIS.

The Doctor, mentally slapping himself in the face, slowly followed after him, but then, sensed something, and stopped. There was something, something in the air…

A storm approaching.

Chapter Text

"The two of you are a well matched pair of pests; you bring nothing but trouble." –The Rani

 

-

 

Sam heard a ring. It was his cell phone. Sam thought that was strange. Annie hadn't called him in months, and she was the only one who ever called him on that phone.

The cell was buried in his duffel bag. Sam had to dig for it, and doing so, knocked a whole bunch of stuff out of it onto the floor. He quickly flipped it open, and said, "Hello? Annie, that you?"

Yes, it's me, said Annie. Um…there's something strange going on here.

"Yeah? What kind of strange?" Sam knelt down to pick up some things that had fallen on the floor. It was clothes, mainly. But then, something that had fallen out of his bag gave him pause.

YOUR kind of strange, said Annie. Can you and the Doctor get down here?

"Er…" Sam was distracted. He was staring at a brassy, old fashioned pocketwatch, with strange, circular symbols enscribed on the outside. Where had it come from? Sam vaguely remembered packing it the day he'd permanently moved in with the Doctor, but he didn't really know why, or what he was doing with it.

He put it up to his ear. No ticking. It was broken. He tried to open it, but the lid was stuck fast.

The more Sam stared at it, the more…strange he felt. His skin tingled, his heart beat hard. He could swear he heard voices, sinister laughter, and the drums, the drum, drum, never ending drumming pounded in his head.

Open me, beckoned the watch. Open me, you human fool, and receive my majesty. OPEN ME!

SAM!

Sam jumped, lobbing the watch away from him. "Wha-what is it?" he stammered.

I asked you a question! This is an emergency, Sam, I need you and the Doctor right away!

"Right, right, of course," said Sam, getting to his feet, shaking slightly. "Where and when?"

"Doctor," said Sam jogging down the stairs into the console room. "Got a call from Annie. Can we get to London, Powell Estates, July 1, 2007, 12:05?"

"We can get there five seconds before that," said the Doctor, grinning, setting the coordinates. Then he looked up at Sam. His face fell. "You alright? You look a little…pale."

"Huh? Oh, yeah, perfect. Anyway, let's go," said Sam, smiling reassuringly at his traveling partner, trying desperately to forget that horrid watch.

 

-

 

Annie was just closing her phone when she heard the familiar whooshing right behind her. She turned around and was nose to nose with blue wood.

The door of the TARDIS was opened from the inside by the skinny idiot in brown. "Hello, Anna!" said the Doctor brightly.

She rolled her eyes. "One of these days, you'll get my name right. And you nearly squashed me with your box here, you know."

"Oh, don't be daft, the TARDIS has never squashed anyone…yet. That I know of," said the Doctor. "Anyway, come 'ere!" He pulled Annie into a bear hug, which she returned, smiling despite herself.

"'Lo, Ann," said Sam, hugging her too. "How long's it been? Since Christmas?"

"Yeah," said Annie. "Seven months, roughly."

"Ah, old place looks the same," said Sam, looking around. "Good ol' planet Earth."

Annie was looking at her wristwatch. "Ten after. Here they come."

"What?" asked the Doctor.

"Them," replied Annie, looking out on the scene.

Suddenly, out of nowhere, grey, translucent figures began to appear. They were shaped like people, but didn't look anything like them. They walked around a bit, coming up to normal humans, who greeted them happily, like old friends.

"Now you see why I called you," said Annie.

"Oh, yeah," said the Doctor, nodding emphatically. "I definitely see why."

 

-

 

"What are they, Annie?" the Doctor asked her as they drove back to her flat. The figures had only remained for two minutes, then faded the same way they came in.

"Government says they're ghosts," said Annie. "There's this company that lets them in everyday, a couple times a day, for just a couple minutes. And they just appear, all over the world."

"And no one's freaking out?" asked Sam.

"Well of course we did, at first. But they didn't seem to mean us any harm, so we just…got used to them. But I don't know…something just doesn't feel right about this whole thing. That's why I called you two in."

"Smart thinking, Annie," said the Doctor. "Now, first things first: they're not ghosts."

"They're not?" asked the humans.

"Course not," said the Doctor. "Ghosts aren't real. Sam, you remember the Gelth. No, this is something else. But whatever it is, it isn't natural. Ann, what is this company that controls the ghosts?"

"Dunno," shrugged Annie. "No one does. Some secret government facility."

"Sounds like UNIT," said the Doctor to himself.

"UNIT?" asked Sam.

"UNified Intelligence Task," the Doctor explained. "Used to work for them, long time ago."

"But this isn't them?" said Sam.

"No. UNIT's too smart for this. We need to check this whole ghost thing out."

 

-

 

As the Doctor was searching the Internet, trying to find info on the ghosts, Sam and Annie were having coffee in the kitchen. "You've changed," said Annie.

"Have I?" asked Sam.

"Yeah. But for the better, though," said Annie, smiling. "I'm glad for you, Sammy."

"Thanks," said Sam, stirring his coffee. "So, still with Jimmy Stone, then?"

"No, he's a bum. Broke up with him months ago." Annie looked out the window. "The right fella's out there for me…somewhere."

"I know he is," said Sam, putting a hand on her shoulder.

Annie didn't say anything, then suddenly laughed. "I think we just broke up."

"I'm sorry," said Sam, also laughing.

"It's okay," said Annie, shaking her head. "We've been on a downhill slope ever since the attack of those shop dummies. When you met him."

Sam sighed. "Listen, Ann, really-"

"No, you listen," said Annie. "I see the way you look at him."

"I don't look at him."

"He looks at you."

Sam's cheeks turned red. "It's not like that. It-it can't be like that."

"But it is," said Annie. "You love him."

"He's just…my friend, I swear," Sam struggled.

"No," said Annie, shaking her head, smiling kindly. "He's more to you than that."

Sam didn't know what to say.

At that moment, the Doctor came in. "Alright, kids, listen up. Annie, when's the next ghost shift?"

Annie consulted her watch. "About half an hour from now."

"Perfect, just enough time to set up the experiment." The Doctor grinned. "Who ya gonna call?"

"Ghostbusters?" asked Sam.

"Nah," said the Doctor, as he pointed a thumb at himself. "Me."

 

-

 

Annie and Sam helped the Doctor set up an experiment. He trapped one of the ghosts, trying to triangulate the point of origin for the "spirits" entering their world. When he did, it caused the three of them, and the TARDIS, to transport to somewhere else. "Allons-y!" shouted the Doctor. "I like that. Allons-y. I should say allons-y more often. Allons-y. Watch out, Sam Tyler, allons-y! And then, it would be really brilliant if I met someone called Alonso, because then I could say, 'allons-y, Alonso', every time!"

Sam laughed. "You're ridiculous, mate!"

"Ah, but that's part of my charm!" said the Doctor, winking at him. "Come on, then, let's see where we are." He pulled up the scanner. Then his face fell. "Oh. Oh, that's not good."

"What is it?" Sam and Annie looked over the Time Lord's shoulders. They had parked in some storeroom full of crates. There were soldiers with big, scary looking guns stationed all around the box.

"Oh my God, they've got guns!" gasped Annie.

"Doctor, don't go out there," said Sam, grabbing the skinny man by the shoulder.

"I've got to," said the Doctor. "You can stay here if you like."

"But they're armed!" said Sam.

"And I'm not, which makes me the better person, don't you think? They can shoot me dead, but the moral high ground is mine." The Doctor cheerfully stuck his hands in his pockets and headed for the door.

"You're not going out there by yourself," said Sam, blocking his way.

"Oh, yes, I am," said the Doctor, pushing him away. "You two apes are staying right here, where it's safe. Kapeche?"

"Doctor!" hissed Sam as the door shut behind the Time Lord. "Idiot!" he grumbled.

"Sam. Monitor," said Annie from the console. Sam had no choice but to join her.

The soldier and a blonde woman in black took the Doctor prisoner. Then, the TARDIS was hauled off to some storage unit. As soon as Sam heard the truck drive away, he peeped his head outside the TARDIS. "Annie, stay here," he said, digging the Doctor's psychic paper out of the Doctor's coat pocket. "I'm going to poke around a bit."

"But the Doctor said-"

"'The Doctor said'?" Sam scoffed. "Amateur."

Annie rolled her eyes as Sam took off.

 

-

 

Sam was wondering the corridors. He had found a lab technician's coat and now he blended in with the rest of the staff.

He was following a man down the hall to somewhere, when someone came out from a perpendicular corridor and nearly collided with Sam, who almost screamed because the person looked exactly like him.

"Sam?!" hissed the technician.

Sam couldn't believe his eyes. "Harry? What are you doing here?"

"The Doctor with you?" Harry asked.

"No, not at the moment. These people captured him."

Harry snapped his fingers. "Of course. Code Omega. That must have been him."

"What is this place?" asked Sam.

"It's called Torchwood," his twin explained.

"Torchwood?" Sam repeated.

"Yeah. Right now we're in the Canary Wharf building, downtown London. It's sort of a secret civilian operation that covertly works with the government. It protects the earth from alien threats."

"Men In Black," said the two men at the same time.

"Yeah," said Harry, nodding. "Basically."

"But how did you get here?" Sam said.

"The Preachers," said Harry. "The Tylers joined us, Pete, Jackie, and Rose. They're loaded, you know, so we've been working on some fringe science experiments. Including…" Harry gestured around them. "Interdimensional travel. Which led us here. Those 'ghosts'? Yeah, they came from our world, just like us. Turns out this place has been working open a rift in time and space, and we were able to get through it."

"You know about the ghosts?" asked Sam. "They came from your world? But what are they?"

Harry looked at him. "Think about it, Sammy. What do we have an excess of in our world?"

"Well the only thing I could think of would be Cyb-" Sam froze. "Oh no."

"Oh yes," nodded Harry.

"Well then, we've got to do something!" Sam exclaimed. "Come on, let's go find the Doctor."

"We can't!" said Harry. "Don't you think it'd look weird if there were two of us running around together?"

"Ugh, you're right," groaned Sam. "Well, what do we do, then?"

"I've got it." Harry ripped off his ID and pinned it to Sam's matching lab coat. "You're Harold Saxon now. Go find Mickey and Rose, they're in the Sphere room. You know them, right?"

"Er, yeah. Mickey, cool bloke, good with tech. Rose, blonde chick, wears pink."

"Right. And I'll go find the Doctor."

"Wait, what about the TARDIS?" Sam asked.

"Shoot! Er…send Mickey to go guard it."

"Okay. And here, take this." Sam handed Harry the Doctor's wallet. "It's psychic paper, it'll show people anything you want them to see. It belongs to the Doctor."

"Got it! Keep your head down." Sam's twin turned to leave.

"Oh, and Harry!" Sam called. "When you see the Doctor, don't flirt with him."

"Oh, I'd never encroach on another bloke's man," said Harry with a wink. Then he took off running.

Sam blushed and ran off in the other direction.

 

-

 

Sam crept into the laboratory. Harry's keycard let him easily. He tried not to look conspicuous as he snuck in. He spotted a black man and a blonde girl standing together next to a computer. "There they are," Sam muttered to himself.

"Saxon!" An Indian-English man in a purple tie strode over to him. "Where's the particle consolidator I asked for?"

"Er…they said there weren't any available," Sam lied quickly.

The man growled. "Dammit. When are they going to get their heads out of their…" He trailed off, looking at Sam. "Did your hair get longer?"

"It's a side effect of the Void ship, Dr. Singh," said a female voice coming from behind Sam. He turned and found Rose Tyler and Mickey Smith at his sides. "I should know," said Rose, giving the scientist a megawatt smile. "I've had to get three inches cut off myself this week."

"Hmm," grunted Singh. "Well, then. Sorry, Saxon." He walked away.

Sam let out a sigh of relief. "Thanks, you guys. I was sure I was caught. By the way, I'm not Harry Saxon."

"Well of course, you're not, you shaggy mop," Rose teased gently, ruffling Sam's playfully unruly brown hair. "Hello, cuz. Figured we'd be seeing you sooner or later."

"Hi, Rose, Mickey. Good to see you again," said Sam.

"Where's Harry?" asked Mickey.

"He went off to find the Doctor. Oh, and he wanted you to go watch over the TARDIS," Sam added.

"Right," nodded Mickey, immediately heading off.

Sam looked up a large sphere, floating in the center of the room. It seemed to be made completely out of darkness. It gave Sam a terrible, cold feeling. "What is that?"

"The Void Ship," said Rose. "That's what the Doctor called it, anyway."

"The Doctor?!" said Sam. "He was here?"

"Yeah," said Rose. "It was while Harry was gone. We would've said something, but there were people all over the place."

Sam groaned. "What's the Void Ship?" he asked.

"It came with us, and the ghosts. The Doctor said it was from 'outside time and space', or something. I'm not really sure…gives you the creeps, doesn't it?"

"Yeah," said Sam, nodding.

 

-

 

Annie was sitting in the jumpseat of the TARDIS, feeling bored, anxious, and ignored. Typical.

Suddenly, the door swung open. "Sam? Doctor?" said Annie, standing up.

It wasn't either of them. It was a dark skinned man in a lab coat. "Who are you?" Annie asked.

"Mickey Smith. Don't worry, your friend Sam sent me." The man looked at her. "He didn't say anyone else would be in here. Who are you?"

Annie stood up straighter. "Annie Cartwright, DI. Sam's girlfriend. Well, ex now, I guess."

"Really?" said Mickey.

 

-

 

The Doctor was being interrogated by Yvonne Hartman when all of a sudden, two guards brought in a man with neat brown hair and a lab coat. "Found him wandering about," said one of the guards. "Had this on him." He threw down the Doctor's wallet, containing his psychic paper. "Stupid idiot," the guard taunted. "Didn't know psychic paper don't work on us. Oldest trick in the book."

"I did know, I just forgot," said Harry, rolling his eyes. "Well, at least I found you. Hello, Doctor, nice to see you again. Love what you're doing with your hair these days."

"You know this man?" Yvonne asked the Doctor.

The Doctor sighed. "Yes. This is my companion, Harry Saxon. Thought I told you to stay in the TARDIS," he added to the man.

Harry shrugged. "You know I don't take orders, Doc," he said, playing along. Then he winked. "I only give them, if you know what I mean."

"Alright, enough of this," said Yvonne. "Are there more of you running around here, Doctor?"

"Er, no. Right, Harry?" said the Doctor.

"No sir," Harry replied.

"Right. Then I-" Yvonne's attention was distracted. Someone was initiating ghost shift.

The Doctor discovered that three of the workers were wearing two earpieces, whereas the rest were wearing only one. "Oh no," he said, realizing.

"Yep," nodded Harry. "That's what I came to tell you."

 

-

 

In the laboratory, the creepy orb was showing signs of life. "That's not meant to happen," said Rose.

"Something's happening," said Sam. "Rose, you called this thing a ship, didn't you?"

"Yes."

"Well, if it's a ship," said Sam slowly, "…wouldn't you think someone might be inside? Or…something?"

"But who? What?" asked Rose.

The sphere began to rupture open.

 

-

 

"We can't stop the gap from opening!" cried a technician.

"Try everything!" exclaimed Yvonne. "Hold the levers if you must!"

"Oh my God," said Harry. "They're going corporeal!"

"Harry, we can't let them in!" exclaimed the Doctor. "Everyone, hold them back!"

"We're trying!"

"Doctor, what is it? What's coming through?" Yvonne asked.

"Cybermen!" yelled the two men together.

"Ghost shift increasing to 100 percent!" called a technician.

The Doctor looked across at the far wall. "Here come the ghosts."

 

-

 

The sphere developed columns and pieces. It began to slide open.

"Rose, go, now!" Sam yelled.

Rose raced to the door and tried to leave. "I can't! They're deadlocked! We're trapped!"

"What's going on?!" cried Singh.

"Something's coming out," said Sam.

"But what?"

"Stop! Listen!" Sam yelled. Then, they heard it.

"EXTERMINATE! EXTERMINATE!"

"No," breathed Sam. "It couldn't be. You're all dead!"

The pepper pots came floating out of the Sphere, one, two, three, four of them, one black and three bronze.

"LOCATION: EARTH! LIFE FORMS DETECTED!" cried the black one.

"EXTERMINATE! EXTERMINATE! EXTERMINATE!" they all yelled together.

"What the hell are those things?!" said Rose.

Sam swallowed. "Daleks!"

Chapter Text

The heiress of house Jacaria, Viviandargolia, was gorgeous, intellectual, and charming. She was everything a man might want in a partner.

But she wasn't Koschei.

One night, about a couple of weeks after their marriage, Vivia suddenly said to him, "You don't love me, do you?"

"What's that?" said Theta in surprise. "Oh. No, of course I love you. Don't be silly."

She looked him sympathetically. "A woman knows when she looks into the eyes of her husband if he wants someone else."

Theta sighed tiredly. He patted his wife's hand. "You're too good for me. That I know for sure."

Vivia laughed. "Of course I am, darling. So…who were they?"

Theta looked far off. "A childhood friend, from school. A very good friend. The love of my life. His name was…oh, never mind. It doesn't matter anymore. He's long gone now."

"I'm so sorry," said Vivia quietly.

"Me too," said Theta quietly. "Ah, well. Life goes on. Besides…I'll never see him again anyway."

 

-

 

"EXTERMINATE! EXTERMINATE! EXTERMINATE!"

"Daleks!" Sam shouted again, this time at the great, screaming pepper pots. "You're called Daleks. I know your name. Think about it how can I know that? A human who knows about the Daleks…and the Time War," he quickly added.

The black Dalek, who seemed to be the leader of the pack, stared back at him through its cold blue eyestalk, but Sam could sense its fear.

"If you want to know how, then keep us alive," he said. "That's all I'm asking. Me and my friends."

The black Dalek looked back and forth from Sam to Rose to Dr. Singh. "YOU WILL BE NECESSARY," it finally decreed. Then it turned to the Dalek on its left. "REPORT. WHAT IS THE STATUS ON THE GENESIS ARK?"

"STATUS: HIBERNATION," the other Dalek replied.

"COMMENCE AWAKENING. THE GENESIS ARK MUST BE PROTECTED ABOVE ALL ELSE."

That's when Sam noticed that something had come out of the Void Ship with the Daleks. It was about the size of a Dalek, maybe a little smaller, conical, and metallic grey.

"Sam?" whispered Rose. "What are those things? The Daleks?"

"The worst things in the universe," said Sam back quietly. "The Doctor says they're pure cans of hate and anger. All they do is kill. It was them that killed the Doctor's people."

"But what are they doing here? What are they doing with us?" Dr. Singh asked, panicking.

"Didn't you hear? 'Exterminate'."

Singh swallowed. "Exterminate…us?"

"Never mind that," Sam muttered back, eyeing the cone. "What the hell's a Genesis Ark?"

At that moment, the Black Dalek spoke. "WHICH OF YOU IS LEAST IMPORTANT?" it demanded.

"What's that supposed to mean, then?" asked Sam.

"WHICH OF YOU IS LEAST IMPORTANT?"

"No, it doesn't work like that," said Sam, shaking his head. "None of us are less important than the other."

"DESIGNATE THE LEAST IMPORTANT!"

"This is my responsibility," said Singh, speaking up.

"No, it isn't," Sam tried to say. "Don't."

Singh cleared his throat and stepped forward bravely. "I, er, I represent the Torchwood Institute. Anything you need, you come through me. Leave these two alone."

"YOU WILL KNEEL," ordered the Dalek.

Singh was confused. "What for?"

"KNEEL!"

The scientist had no choice but to get to his knees.

"THE DALEKS NEED INFORMATION ABOUT CURRENT EARTH HISTORY," said the black Dalek.

Yeah, well, I can give you a certain amount of intelligence but nothing that will compromise homeland security,' Singh said, but the Dalek cut him off.

"SPEECH IS NOT NECESSARY. WE WILL EXTRACT BRAINWAVES."

Sam and Rose were forced to watch in horror as the man's cranium was suckered to death.

 

-

 

Above, in the ghost shift lab, the Cybermen had taken control. The people of Earth were being held hostage. And there was nothing Torchwood or the Doctor could do.

"Harry," he said, turning to the look alike of his companion. "Please tell me Sam and Annie stayed in the TARDIS."

"Who's Annie?" Harry asked.

"Never mind. What about Sam?"

Harry looked guilty. "Down in the Void Ship room, with Rose Tyler. I got my man Mickey watching your ship, though."

The Doctor was not consoled. If Sam was out of the TARDIS, that meant the Cybermen probably had him. The Doctor couldn't bear to think it.

"Scans detect unknown technology active within Sphere chamber," a Cyberman suddenly reported.

"Cybermen will investigate," stated another.

"Units ten-six-five and ten-six-six will investigate Sphere chamber," ordered the Cyberleader.

"We obey," said a troupe of Cybermen, before marching out.

"Sphere chamber? That's Sam and Rose are," said Harry worriedly.

"What did they mean by 'unknown technology'?" the Doctor wondered aloud.

"Dunno," shrugged Harry. "The Void Ship, maybe?"

"Or what was inside it," the Doctor murmured back.

 

-

 

Back in the Sphere chamber, the sinister pepper pots had finished with the late Dr. Rajesh Singh. His body lay there on the floor, a dehydrated skeleton in a lab coat. "HIS MIND SPOKE OF A SECOND SPECIES INVADING EARTH, INFECTED BY THE SUPERSTITION OF GHOSTS!" claimed one Dalek.

"You didn't need to kill him!" Rose squeaked.

"NEITHER DID WE NEED HIM ALIVE."

"DALEK THAY, INVESTIGATE OUTSIDE," ordered the black Dalek.

One of the other, lesser Daleks, presumably Thay, said, "I OBEY," and rolled out.

The Daleks and the Cybermen established contact. "They're here," said Rose, worryingly.

Sam sighed. "Daleks and Cybermen. Aren't we lucky?"

"IDENTIFY YOURSELVES," ordered Dalek Thay.

"You will identify first," the Cyberleader retorted.

"STATE YOUR IDENTITY."

"You will identify first."

"IDENTIFY!"

"Listen to 'em," said Sam, shaking his head. "You'd think they were six year olds."

Rose looked at him in disbelief. "Are you mad? There's two genocidal alien races out there, and you're making jokes."

"Technically speaking, Cybermen are human, but…yeah. I suppose I am," said Sam softly. "Living with the Doctor…I guess it does that to you."

Up above, the Doctor was watching on the monitor with the Torchwood staff and the Cybermen. When the gold pepper pot came rolling out, he felt his hearts leap in his chest. No! It's impossible! he thought to himself. I...I destroyed them all. Or at least, I thought I did.

This was beyond catastrophic. When the Doctor just had the Cybermen to deal with, he figured, with a little luck, he'd be able to defeat them and rescue Sam. But now, there were two offending forces to be reckoned with. All hope was lost.

"Oh, Sam," whispered the Doctor. "I've killed you. I'm sorry. I'm so sorry."

"WAIT!" ordered a Dalek, back down in the sphere chamber. They had just declared war on the Cybermen. "REWIND IMAGE BY NINE GRILLS."

The visual com backtracked a few seconds and paused. The Cyberleader was standing there, frozen, but Sam spied something in the background. Something brown.

"Oh, you absolute idiot," Sam muttered, a grin cracking his face, despite the circumstances. "You bloody fool. You're alive after all."

"IDENTIFY GRID SEVEN GAMMA FRAME," said the Dalek. The screen zoomed in on the Doctor in the background.

"THIS INDIVIDUAL REGISTERS AS ENEMY!"

"THE MALE'S HEARTRATE HAS INCREASED!"

Sam turned red. "Oh, it has not, shut up!"

"IDENTIFY HIM!" the Dalek demanded.

Sam swallowed. "Alright then. If you really want to know…that's the Doctor."

The Daleks, who had been crowding around Sam and Rose, immediately backed off.

Sam smirked. "Five million Cybermen-no sweat. But one Doctor? Now you're scared."

 

-

 

Upstairs, the rest of the Preachers had teleported in. Jake, Pete, and a few others. They gave the Doctor the low down on what had been happening in their world. They resolved to banish the Cybermen and the Daleks to the Void, and close of the holes between the dimensions.

Meanwhile, the Daleks ordered Sam to touch the Ark. "No," said Sam.

"OBEY! OR THE FEMALE WILL DIE!" said the Dalek.

"Sam, don't!" exclaimed Rose, catching his arm.

Sam smiled tightly at her. "Can't let 'em kill my cousin, eh? 'Sides…they're just gonna kill me anyway." Then he reached out to press his hand against the stolen Time Lord technology. But then he hesitated. He turned to Dalek Thay. "If you escaped the Time War…then you probably don't know what happened to the Emperor."

The Dalek seemed to pause. "YOU KNOW OF THE EMPEROR?"

"I met him," said Sam, slightly smug.

"THE EMPEROR SURVIVED?"

Sam shrugged. "'Til he met me, that is. 'Cause let me tell you something, Dalek, and if these are gonna be my last words, then you better listen: I met the Emperor, alright. And I destroyed him."

The Daleks were frozen.

"I absorbed the Time Vortex, poured it into his head, and obliterated him," Sam continued. "The leader of the so-called most powerful civilization in the universe…killed off by one measly little human. The God of all Daleks, and I killed him. HA!" he laughed into the Dalek's eyestalk.

"YOU LIE!"

"Try me!" Sam shouted.

"YOU WILL BE EXTERMINATED!"

"Now hold on, there's no call for that," said a calm voice.

Sam, Rose, and all the Daleks turned to face the door.

There stood the Doctor, hands in his pockets, (for some reason, 3D glasses on his face) and looking nonchalant as all get out.

"Doctor!" exclaimed Sam, unable to contain the giant grin on his face.

"'Lo, Sam. Good to see you. The real you, that is, not your flamboyant twin. And Rose, was it? Just spoke with your father, lovely man. And hello, Daleks. Long time no see. Last time I saw you, you were dying out in the Time War."

"YOU ARE THE DOCTOR!"

"EXTERMINATE HIM!"

"Oh, just wait a minute, would you? I need to hug my friend." The Doctor wrapped his skinny limbs around Sam and hugged him tight. "I'm so glad to see you," the Doctor murmured in his ear, dropping the arrogance, relief breaking into his voice.

"You too," muttered Sam, squeezing the Doctor back. "Idiot."

"Ape," laughed the Doctor, cupping his cheek.

"Spaceman."

"Land lubber."

"Stick figure."

"Well now that's just getting personal!"

Rose cleared her throat.

"Er, yes, right, sorry, Dalek time," said the Doctor, releasing his companion.

The Daleks tried to force the Doctor to imprint the Genesis Ark, but the Doctor let in the Preachers, who had temporarily allied themselves with the Cybermen to attack the Daleks. During the melee, Sam was knocked against the Ark. The time travel radiation from his body activated the Ark. The Cybermen were exterminated, and the humans and Time Lord barely escaped with their lives.

"Doctor, I'm sorry," Sam stammered, looking at his burnt hand in anguish.

"Never mind that now," said the Doctor. "What we need to worry about now is-what is the Genesis Ark?"

"It's Time Lord technology," said Sam. "That's all they said. Oh, and that it held the future."

"The fu-oh, no." The Doctor took off down the corridor, his trainers squeaking against the polished floor.

"Doctor, what is it?"

"No, no, no, no, no, no, no!" The Doctor led the team up the stairs back to the ghost shift room where there was a large picture window.

The Daleks had moved the Genesis Ark to the outside where it was hovering in midair, high above the city of London. "What's it doing?" Sam asked.

"Opening," said the Doctor in horror.

"But…what's inside?"

"Think, Sam. If it's a Time Lord vessel, that means it uses inner-dimensional technology, which means it's-"

"Bigger on the inside," Sam realized.

"Yes, and if it holds the future, the future of the Daleks…then that must mean…"

Sam's blood ran cold. "Oh, no."

"Oh, yes."

"What's going on?!" exclaimed Annie as she and Mickey came running in. "There were big robot things walking around-"

"Cybermen," Mickey supplied.

"Yeah, those. Is this an invasion?"

"Worse," said Sam. "A double invasion."

"There were things inside that Void ship, Mickey," Rose told him. "The Doctor says they're Daleks. They're bad."

"Very bad," agreed Sam.

"And they're about to get a lot worse," said the Doctor, pointing outside.

The Genesis Ark was opening. Something whizzed out from the inside of it. Then more things.

"Oh my God," gasped Annie.

The Ark was spitting out more Daleks. Hundreds of them. Thousands. Millions. Enough to match the Cybermen, maybe even overpower them.

"What are we going to do?" Sam asked the Doctor.

Sam felt the Doctor's hand slip into his. Sam squeezed it without even a second thought.

"I don't know, Sam," said the Doctor. "I just don't know."

Chapter Text

This is it, thought Sam. This is really the end. Sam was scared, but that hand interlaced with his own ebbed the fear a little.

"I'm sorry, but you've had it. This world's going to crash and burn. There's nothing we can do. We're going home." Pete Tyler grabbed a device from one of the Preachers and placed it around his neck.

"Come on, Annie, you take one too. And you, Sam," said Mickey, handing them each a device.

"What's it do?" Sam asked.

"It'll take us in between the worlds. Come on." Mickey, Harry, Jake, and the other Preachers except Pete hit the buttons on their devices, and blinked out of existence. Annie looked at Sam, shrugged, and hit hers too.

"Annie, wait!" Sam sighed, too late.

"Come on, then, Mister Tyler. You too," said Pete.

"Um, thanks, but no thanks," said Sam, taking the teleport from around his neck. "Think I'll stay. My home's here, and besides, the Doctor needs me. Right, Doctor?"

Sam turned around to face his companion, but as soon as he did, the Doctor reached out and touched the device still dangling from Sam's hand. Sam disappeared.

An instant later, Sam found himself in an identical room, with all the Preachers and Annie.

"Sammy? You're staying?" Annie asked him.

"Like hell I am! That skinny idiot sent me back!" Sam said angrily, putting the device around his neck. "You stay here, Annie. I'll come back for you when it's safe."

"Um, Sammy…I don't want to go back."

Sam froze.

Annie was standing in front of him. Right next to her was Mickey.

They were holding hands.

Sam blinked in surprise.

Annie took a deep breath. "You see, back in this world…Mickey had a girl named Anna. She was me. But she died. And, well…we talked for a long time. And he's really nice, Sam. And…there's just nothing left for me in that world. No family, really stupid job."

"Oh…" Sam didn't know what to say. "Well…if that's what you want."

Annie nodded.

"Well, then…maybe we'll meet again someday, Annie Cartwright." Sam kissed her on the cheek.

"Maybe. Goodbye, Sammy."

Sam nodded. "Bye."

Then he blinked out.

-

"Excuse me, what the hell were you thinking?!" Sam exclaimed as soon as he reappeared in his proper world.

"I was thinking that you'd just get in the way if you were here. I'm opening up the breach, and if you're here, you'll just get sucked in with the Daleks and the Cybermen. But if you're in Harry's World, then you'll be safe."

"But what about you?"

The Doctor picked up one of two large black objects. "Magna-clamps!" He flicked a switch and attached it to the wall on one side of the Void chamber. "Nothin'll unstick these babies. Let's just hope I've got a tight grip. There, nothing to worry about. So go on, off you pop."

"And once the breach is closed? Can I get back?"

The Doctor thought for a minute. "…no. No, you can't."

"Right, so, stuck in another dimension, for the rest of my life, without you…nah. Not gonna happen." Sam crossed his arms.

"Don't argue with me, Sam," said the Doctor.

"You're being an idiot."

"Just do what you're told."

Sam picked up the other of the two Magna-clamps. "Two of these, yeah?" He stuck his to the wall across from the Doctor's. "Problem solved."

"It's not safe," said the Doctor, gritting his teeth.

"Well, it's not safe for you either!"

"Sam, please, just go with Annie and Mickey, you'll be safe," the Doctor beseeched.

"No. It's you and me. Partners. Remember?"

"It could be your chance, Sam! To have parents, a sister, a home!"

"I have a home!" Sam threw out his arms in annoyance. "It's the TARDIS! It's time and space! It's you, Doctor. Don't you understand? To me, you're...you're..."

Everything, Sam wanted to say. You are the single most important thing in the universe. The most precious, the most relevant, the absolute of all creation, my infinity, my singularity, my all. You are the heat emanating from the sun, the gravity holding me to the ground, the very life blood pumping through my veins. I fought the tide for so long, but you took me in and absorbed me and now I'm drowning in you and I don't want to be saved. If you and I were separated, I would die. My heart would burst and my stomach would implode and my blood would freeze and I would wither into nothing, because you are my everything. My wonderful, mad, stupid, genius, idiot, fool, hero, eternal Doctor.

Sam swallowed. "...my best mate. And God knows without me, you wouldn't be able to pour yourself a cup of tea. So count me in."

The Doctor's cheeks quivered with anger. His usually warm brown eyes were glaring at Sam with heated frustration. Then he closed his eyes and exhaled. "Alright. Over there." He pointed to a control panel. "Set all the coordinates to six."

Sam nodded and walked away.

-

They prepared to open up the Breach. "Alright! Clamp on?" the Doctor cried.

"Yeah!"

"Nice and tight?"

"Yeah, I got it!"

"Alright then. We open the breach on my count. One…"

Sam clenched his lever.

"…two…"

Sam shut his eyes, his muscles tensed.

"Allons-y!"

Sam wrenched the lever backward, then grabbed the handle of the Magna-clamp. He gripped it tightly.

"Online," announced a computerized female voice, as the Void opened up.

Almost immediately, Daleks and Cybermen came slamming through the glass windows, sucked into the Void like dust into a vacuum cleaner.

"The Breach is open! Into the Void! Ha!" laughed the Doctor.

More and more and more, from all over the world, the monsters were pooled in and extracted from the earth. Sam, still tightly gripping his clamp, watched as they flew by his head.

Suddenly, the structure gave a shudder. "Offline," said the voice.

Sam looked. His lever was failing. It was starting to fall back to its original position. "Doctor!" he yelled.

"Sam, no!" the Doctor exclaimed.

Sam reached out for it, but his arms just weren't long enough. He let go of his clamp and yanked it upright.

"Online and locked." The system was working at full capacity again, but now Sam was in a bit of a bind. He was trying desperately to grab back onto the clamp, but the force of the Void was too much. Now he was only holding onto the handle of the lever, his whole body aloft and being reined in.

"Sam, hold on!" the Doctor cried.

Sam was trying with all his might. But he just wasn't strong enough. His fingers slipped.

"SAAAAAAAAAAM!" the Doctor screamed.

Sam was pulled backward toward the Void, forced to watch as the Doctor helplessly screamed his name. He shut his eyes, preparing for the moment of impact-

Whump.

Sam collided with something warm and steady, and both he and the body came crashing down to the floor of the TARDIS. Sam found himself sitting in between two long splayed legs clothed in brown pinstripes, with two matching brown arms cuddled around his torso, hugging him into their owner's warm chest, through which Sam could feel two madly beating hearts. A soft cheek was brushing his own, and a sharp chin was resting gently on his shoulder. He heard a light, relieved breathing in his left ear.

Sam licked his lips. "Doctor?" he whispered nervously.

"Yes," came the choked reply, hugging Sam slightly closer.

"What did you do?" asked Sam, vaguely aware how close the Doctor was holding him, and that he hadn't made a move to leave his embrace.

"I flew the TARDIS in between you and the portal so that you would fly in here instead of into the Void," said the Doctor, absentmindedly reaching up to run a thumb across Sam's jaw line.

Sam still didn't object, but clutched the hand still on his chest with his own. "But you're still out there..." he murmured.

"Yes," said the Doctor, continuing to stroke Sam's jaw. "And by now the Void has closed, and I'm running to my TARDIS to catch you. And here we are."

Sam slowly removed the grasping hands and moved away, turning to look the Doctor in the eye. They were still intimately close, Sam noted, and his singular heart was now beating at the elevated rate of one of the Doctor's. "You could've died," he breathed. "You could've been sucked in too. The TARDIS is carrying as much cross-dimensional residue as I am, if not more."

"Well, the point is, I wasn't."

"What the hell did you think you were doing?!"

"I was saving you," said the Doctor, looking slightly peeved.

"I'm not worth it," snapped Sam.

"Don't be stupid."

"You are infinitely more important than some insignificant human being!" Sam felt his temper rising. "You must never, ever risk your own life to save me. Do you understand? I don't matter."

"Yes, you do!" the Doctor exclaimed angrily. "Don't you see? You're the most important person in the universe to me!"

Sam froze. The Doctor stared at him wide-eyed, mirroring Sam's own expression of bewilderment, as though he hadn't meant to say that.

Sam kissed him.

He cupped the Doctor's face and pressed his lips to the other man's. The Doctor was surprised, and it took him a moment to react, but then he kissed back. Sam felt the drums in his head beating in tandem to the Time Lord's quadruple heart beat. He deepened the kiss, leaning into the Doctor, placing his hands on the floor on either side of the Doctor's body. Their lips were moving desperately against each other's-

Sam suddenly wrenched back. "I'm sorry!" he exclaimed, his face flushed, his eyes wide and crazed, his mouth slightly agape. His lips were bright red from their fervent kiss.

The Doctor too opened his mouth, trying to think of something to say (besides "don't be sorry, just kiss me again, you bloody fool"), when their concentration was abruptly broken by a surprised squeak.

Both men quickly turned their heads to see a woman with bright red hair in a wedding gown and veil, standing there, looking just as off guard as they felt at the moment.

"I'm sorry," she said, her voice high and funny with shock. "Was I...interrupting something?"

-

Theta, wizened with age and now walking with a cane, was about to climb inside the ship when suddenly, he turned at the sound of quick little footsteps running toward him.

A young girl with short dark hair, gasping slightly from running, came up to him. "Grandfather! Where are you going?!" she cried.

"Arkytior, my child, you should be at home!" Theta lightly scolded. "Why have you followed me?"

"Because I want to come with you!" said Arkytior.

"It's too dangerous," said Theta bitterly. "You must stay here and complete school, like I never did."

"But Grandfather, I don't like school! It's so restrictive, there are so many rules!"

"Welcome to Time Lord society," grumbled Theta. "It doesn't matter. I'm leaving this blasted planet, and you cannot come with me!"

"Oh, please, Grandfather!" Arkytior flung herself at her delicate grandfather and clung to the front of his off world clothes. "You've always told such wonderous stories of planets beyond Kasterborous. Of people who do brave things, of sounds so sweet it hurts to listen to them, of colors one can't even find on Gallifrey. Where the sky is blue and the grass is green! Green grass! I can't even imagine it. I want to see other worlds, meet their people...wear clothes like these!" She grabbed one of Theta's lapels. "Grandfather, we're two of a kind-we don't belong here. Wherever you're going, I want to come too."

Theta stared down into the pleading eyes of his beloved granddaughter, who had unfortunately inherited the wild spirit of her nomadic grandfather. "Alright, my child," he sighed. "In here," he gestured to the TARDIS before him. "We'll leave in this ship. The very ship that took me from this planet a long time ago. Go on."

Arkytior nodded and boarded. Theta made to follow her, but a voice stopped him.

"Doctor?"

Theta turned around. There was no one else in the room of the barren old TARDIS museum, so it must be him that the voice was calling to.

The voice belonged to a young woman with brown hair and even browner eyes. She was wearing a burgundy tunic with brown clasps on the chest, and a silver belt around her slender waist with a big five point star on her belt buckle. She stared at him with wonder.

"Yes, what is it?" Theta said, nervous that he'd been caught. "What do you want?"

The girl smiled at him. "Sorry, but...you're about to make a very big mistake."

Theta lifted an eyebrow questioningly.

The girl leaned against a TARDIS, the one next to the one the Doctor was about to get inside. "Don't steal that one, steal this one. The navigation's knackered, but you'll have much more fun."

Theta looked at the TARDIS she was indicating. He touched its side. There was a familiar hum beneath his fingertips. Theta chuckled to himself. How could he have been so foolish? This was his TARDIS from long ago. How could he have almost made such a grievous mistake?

"Arkytior!" Theta called into the other ship. "Never mind, this isn't the right ship." As his granddaughter came out, Theta turned to thank the other girl. But she was mysteriously gone.

"Where are we going first, Grandfather?" Arkytior asked as Theta started the ship.

"I believe you mentioned blue skies and green grass, eh? We're going to a little planet called Sol 3, otherwise known as Earth." Theta almost smiled as the TARDIS began making that wonderful wheezing noise. "You'll need Earth clothes to blend in, of course. The Time And Relative Dimension In Space has a well enough stocked wardrobe."

"Alright, Grandfather." Arkytior turned and headed into the depths of the ship. "Oh, by the way," she said, poking her head back into the console room, "'Time And Relative Dimension In Space' is a bit of a mouthful, isn't it? Can we shorten it?"

"To what, my dear?" Theta asked.

"Um...what about...'TARDIS'?" Arkytior said.

Theta bit back a smile, not letting his dear granddaughter know that 'TARDIS' was already a widely-used abbreviation. "Of course. That sounds lovely."

Arkytior grinned and left again. Theta stood there, thinking. Not only would they need clothes to camouflage themselves, but identities as well. Arkytior should have something Earth-like, easy to remember, but beautiful. The Gallifreyan name 'Arkytior' meant 'flower' in English. Theta remembered, the time he'd landed on Earth, a pretty yellow wildflower that someone had told him was called "black-eyed Susan". Susan...that had a nice ring to it.

But about himself? Hmm...Theta remembered the mysterious girl from the museum. What had she called him? 'Doctor'.

Theta kind of liked the sound of that. The Doctor.

He wondered if Koschei would have liked it too.

Chapter Text

"Who are you?" the redhead demanded as the Doctor and Sam hurriedly untangled themselves from each other. "Where am I?"

"Um…" "Ah…" Both boys were dumbfounded.

"What the hell is this place?!" the bride shrieked.

"What? What? What!" the Doctor exclaimed. He hurried over to his controls, face still quite red over the…incident. "You can't do that. We weren't-we're in flight! That is, that is physically impossible! How did-!"

"Tell me where I am!" exclaimed the woman, looking from the Doctor to Sam. She looked panicked, angry, and scared. "I demand you tell me right now-where am I?!"

"I-inside the TARDIS," Sam managed to stammer out. He was just as confused as the Doctor, not to mention, terribly embarrassed. He kept his gaze fixed on the redhead, unable to look the Doctor in the eye. Oh Lord, he'd done it! He'd actually kissed the Doctor!

"The what?" said the bride, looking at him suspiciously.

"The TARDIS," said the Doctor.

"The what?!"

"The TARDIS!" the men exclaimed at the same time.

"That's not even a proper word!" the woman shouted back at them. "You're just saying things!"

"How did you get in here?" said Sam.

"Well, obviously," she hissed, glaring at him, "when you and your…skinny boyfriend over there kidnapped me!"

"We didn't kidnap you!" "He's not my boyfriend." The Doctor and Sam said at the same time.

"Well, you could hardly tell, considering the way you were sucking his face off!" the bride shrieked. "Who put you up to this? Was it Nerys, oh my God, she's finally got me back; this has got Nerys written all over it!"

"Who's Nerys?" asked Sam.

"Your best friend," the bride hissed accusingly.

"Hold on, wait a minute," said the Doctor, coming around the console to inspect their intruder closer. He took in her long white gown and veil. "What are you dressed like that for?"

"I'm going ten pin bowling. WHY DO YOU THINK, DUMBO?! I was halfway up the aisle! I've been waiting all my life for this! I was just seconds away, and then you two, I don't know, drugged me or something-"

"We didn't drug you, we swear-"

"Don't touch me, you freak!" the woman yelled as Sam took a step toward her. "I'll have the police on you! Me and my husband-when he is my husband-we're gonna sue the backsides of ya!" The bride then spotted the double doors leading to the outside and sprinted for them.

"Wait, don't!" Sam yelled.

The woman flung the doors open, then stopped when she looked out and saw nothing but swirling colors. "Wha-what is-"

"It's called the Vortex," said Sam, coming up behind her. "It's…sort of part of outer space."

"I'm in space," said the woman slowly.

"Yes," said the Doctor, joining them.

"This…is a…"

"Spaceship," said the Doctor. "Our spaceship. It's called the TARDIS."

Sam noted that the Doctor had said "our". Not "my".

"How am I breathing?" squeaked the woman, still staring out into the void.

"The TARDIS is protecting us," the Doctor answered.

The woman slightly looked over her shoulders at her "kidnappers". "Who are you?"

"I'm the Doctor. This is Sam Tyler. You?"

"Donna," replied the woman weakly.

"Human?" asked Sam.

Donna looked at him, slightly startled. "Is that optional?"

"Well, for him it is," said Sam, nodding his head at the Doctor. He still didn't look at him, though.

Donna exhaled a bit, sort of a nervous breath. "You're an alien."

"Yeah," said the Doctor.

Donna was silent for a moment, then said shortly, "It's freezing in here with these doors open." She hugged her bare arms.

The Doctor silently shut the doors and jogged back to his controls. "I don't understand it and I understand everything. This can't happen!"

"Maybe it's like that transmat beam from Satellite Five," suggested Sam.

"Oh no. Nothing gets inside the TARDIS. Nothing!" exclaimed the Doctor, typing swiftly at the keyboard. "There is no way a human being can lock itself onto the TARDIS and transport itself inside!"

"Well, she did," Sam countered.

"It must be some sort of subatomic connection," said the Doctor, barely hearing his companion as he whipped out an otoscope and examined Donna through it, just like a real doctor. "Something like a temporal field. Maybe something pulling you into alignment with the chronon shell. Maybe it's something macrobudding your DNA with the interior matrix. Maybe a genetic-!" The Doctor's long winded speech was caught off by Donna's right hand sharply striking his cheek.

Sam snorted with laughter.

The Doctor looked astonished. "What was that for?!" he exclaimed.

"GET ME TO THE CHURCH!" Donna bellowed.

"Right, fine! I don't want you here anyway!" the Doctor declared, throwing down his otoscope and tromping to the other side of the console to set the coordinates. "Where is this wedding?"

"St. Mary's," replied Donna shortly as she followed him. "Haven Road, Chiswick, London, England, Earth, the solar system!"

"Yeah, I think I could've guessed that!" the Doctor snapped.

Donna looked at Sam. "And you. Did he kidnap you as well? Force you to be his little love monkey or something?"

"NO!" exclaimed both men at the same time.

"We're just…we travel together, that's all," said Sam.

"And what? Go around abducting women for your space orgies?"

"NOOOOO!" the Doctor and Sam shouted again.

"I don't care," grumbled Donna, stomping off to the far end of the room. "Just get me back home."

The TARDIS's wheezing slowed and finally came to a complete stop. "Is that it then?" said Donna. "Are we here?"

"Yes," said the Doctor.

"Good. Outta my way, spacemen," said Donna, tromping down the ramp to the front doors and heading outside, the Doctor and Sam following her.

They had arrived in an area surrounded by buildings. "This isn't St. Mary's," said Sam, looking around. "Not even sure if it's Chiswick. Mind you, never really gotten the opportunity to go to Chiswick, but-"

"What sort of Martian are you?" Donna groused at the Doctor. "Where's this?"

The Doctor looked concernedly at his box. "Something's wrong with her. The TARDIS, it's like she's…recalibrating!" the Doctor raced back inside.

Donna looked at Sam. "Is he always like this?"

"What, in a rush? Pretty much, yeah," said Sam, shoving his hands in the pockets of his black hoodie. "Blimey, it's cold out here. What season is it?"

"Winter. It's Christmas Eve," said Donna absently. She only just now spotted the exterior of the TARDIS.

"Christmas Eve? Really? How time flies," Sam remarked. "Wait, you planned your wedding on Christmas Eve? Why?"

"Wanted to get away for Christmas. Can't stand it. Hate the cold. I'm honeymooning in Morocco…" Donna was rounding the TARDIS, making the usual calculations in her head. The size of a phone booth and the space inside it didn't quite add up.

"Bigger on the inside," Sam explained. "Trans-dimensional…stuff."

Donna poked her head out from the other side of the TARDIS and stared at him. "You're weird. You and you space boyfriend. I'm leaving."

"Donna, wait! Doctor!" Sam called.

The Doctor came out of the TARDIS. "Donna-"

"Leave me alone, I just want to get married," said Donna, walking away from them.

Sam and the Doctor flanked her. "Come back to the TARDIS," the Doctor said.

"No way! That box is too weird," Donna declared, speeding up a bit. She was surprisingly fast for a woman in a long wedding dress.

"It's bigger on the inside, that's all," said Sam.

"Oh, that's all?" Donna exclaimed as the three of them walked along. Just a short guy in a hoodie, a skinny bloke in a way too tight suit, and a woman in a bridal gown and veil. Very inconspicuous. With a distressed sigh, Donna checked her watch. "Ten past three. I'm gonna miss it."

"Why don't you phone them, tell them where you are?" Sam suggested.

"How do I do that?"

"Haven't you got a mobile?" asked the Doctor.

Donna stopped to glare at him. "I'm in my wedding dress. It doesn't have pockets. Who has pockets? Have you ever seen a bride with pockets? When I went to my fitting at Chez Allison, the one thing I forgot to say was give me pockets!"

"It's alright, it's alright, just…use mine," said Sam, digging his own cell phone out of the pocket of his jeans and handing it over.

Donna took it and gave the Doctor a snarky look. "Thank you. At least one of you has his head on straight."

"This man you're marrying, what's his name?" the Doctor asked as Donna punched out a number on Sam's mobile.

"Lance."

"Good luck, Lance," muttered the Doctor.

"Oi!" Donna shouted.

"Sorry," said Sam. "Forgets his manners sometimes. Well, when I say sometimes…"

"Oh, the line's busy!" Donna exclaimed, angrily hanging up. "They must all be freaking out looking for me. Well, if you want something done right, you gotta do it yourself. TAXI!" she shouted, taking off down the street.

"Oh boy," muttered Sam as he and the Doctor were forced to take off after the runaway bride once again.

They had a hell of a time getting a taxi, but finally they managed to pull one over. "Saint Mary's in Chiswick, just off Hayden Road. It's an emergency, I'm getting married."

"Gee, would've never been able to guess," said the Doctor, looking at her dress.

Donna silenced him with a Look. "Just hurry up!"

"It'll cost you, sweetheart," said the driver. "Double rates today, what with the Christmas season and all."

"Oh my God," said Donna in realization. "Have you got any money?"

"Not me," said the Doctor. He looked at Sam. "You?"

"Erm…oh, no! They took my wallet at Torchwood!" Sam said, clapping his hand to his forehead.

"Not with my psychic paper!" said the Doctor.

"Sorry," Sam winced.

"Well, what about you?" said the Doctor, turning to Donna.

Donna sighed in disgust. "Pockets!"

The driver threw them out. Donna yelled some colorful obscenities at him. "And that goes double for your mother!" she called as he drove away. "I'll have him. I got his number. Talk about the Christmas spirit."

"Well, what now?" Sam said.

"We need money," said the Doctor, looking up and down the street. "Listen, Donna, you try calling your people again. Me and Sam will go try to scrounge up some money."

"How are you gonna do that?" Donna inquired.

"By doing something…Martian. Come on, let's go!" Sam and the Doctor took off for the nearest ATM.

"Oh, bloody hell," groaned Sam, staring at the people waiting in line. There were only a couple of them, but they were in a hurry.

"'S fine. We can catch our breath," said the Doctor.

Sam nodded. But now that oxygen was properly getting to his head, he realized that he was alone with the Doctor. And that sooner or later, they were going to have to discuss the incident.

"So, um…" Sam had no idea how to approach this situation. "Nice weather, eh?"

"Oh. Er, yeah," said the Doctor, looking around as if he hadn't noticed.

"So…your hair looks different," Sam said.

"It does? Oh yeah. Guess I forgot to gel it. Well, it has been a long day," said the Doctor, putting his hand to his normally spiky hair. Sam had the sudden urge to run his hands through it. It looked so soft.

"Yeah," agreed Sam. "Um, speaking of which-"

"Oh, finally!" said the Doctor, stepping up to the ATM. "Keep watch," he told Sam as whipped out his sonic screwdriver.

"Roger," said Sam, covering the Doctor. He looked around for anyone who might spy the Doctor stealing from the machine. Up the street, he heard a brass band playing "O Come, All Ye Faithful". Sam's ears followed the music till he spotted the source.

His face fell. "Doctor!"

"What?" said the Doctor as he grabbed the cash. He followed Sam's gaze. "Oh no."

The music was coming from a horribly familiar trio of figures clothed in red and white cloaks with rubber Santa Claus masks. "It's them," Sam said. "Those things from last Christmas, the ones that were trying to get you. What are they doing here?"

"I don't know," said the Doctor. "But whatever it is, it can't be good. And I'd bet anything it has something to do with…Donna!"

The Doctor and Sam looked back up the street to see Donna climbing into a taxi. "Thanks for nothing, spacemen!" she yelled to them. "I'll see you in court!"

"Doctor, the driver!" Sam exclaimed. Another one of the Santas was driving the car!

"DONNA!" the Doctor yelled, but it was no use. The car was already speeding away.

"Doctor, what do we do?"

The Doctor was thinking. "We cause a distraction." He aimed his sonic screwdriver at the ATM, which exploded and showered the street with bills. The people nearby were in a frenzy as they tried to grab the money for themselves. The Santa band, who had been aiming their instruments at them, was blocked by the crowd.

"Merry Christmas!" Sam called to the mob laughingly as the Doctor grabbed his hand and pulled him toward the TARDIS.

"We're going after her," said the Doctor as they ran back inside the ship. "Okay, look, I'm going to fly this thing alongside her cab. You have to stand at the door and convince her to jump out of the car and inside the TARDIS."

"Why me?!" exclaimed Sam.

"Because you can't fly a TARDIS and she hates me!" said the Doctor.

"Okay." Sam threw open the door to the TARDIS, which was now speeding along a highway. Running directly right next to him was the cab, with Donna trapped inside. "Donna!" Sam yelled. "Open the door!"

"What?!" Donna mouthed back.

"Open! The! Door!" Sam cried.

Sam couldn't hear her through the glass, but she indicated that the car was locked. "Doctor! I need your sonic!"

The Doctor tossed him the screwdriver, which Sam just barely caught, and used it to open Donna's door.

She rolled down the window. "Santa's a robot!" she wailed.

"Donna, open the door!" Sam called.

"Why?!"

"Because you have to jump!"

"I'm not blinking flip jumping, I'm supposed to be getting married!" Donna sniped.

The robot, who had noticed Sam and the TARDIS by now, accelerated the car and drove away. "Doctor! Faster! They're getting away!" Sam called.

The Doctor moved the TARDIS to catch up with the cab. "Use the sonic on the robot so that it can't go any faster!" he directed.

Sam did so. The robot immediately released the gas and the car resumed a constant speed. "Listen to me, you've got to jump!" Sam cried to Donna.

"I'm not jumping on a motorway!" Donna exclaimed.

"Whatever that thing is, it needs you, and whatever needs you for, it's not good!" Sam said. "Believe me, we've dealt with those things before! Now come on!"

"I'm in my wedding dress!" Donna shouted.

"Yes, you look beautiful! Come on!" Sam exclaimed.

"Sam, can't hold her for much longer!" the Doctor cried.

Donna's door swung open. Donna stood up. Sam held his arms out. Donna stared uneasily at the speeding road underneath them. "I can't do it!" she said.

"Please!" said Sam. "Trust me!"

Donna swallowed. She closed her eyes and with a small squeak of terror, she leapt out of the car into Sam's waiting arms. They both went tumbling backward into the TARDIS.

Chapter Text

"Oh!" Donna gasped with surprise. "Oh thank God! I thought for sure you were gonna drop me."

"Why is that?" said Sam, getting up from the floor, then helping Donna to her feet.

"Well you're just such a little fella," said Donna, brushing off her gown.

Sam reddened. "Oi! I'm five nine! That's not little!"

"Well, you are pretty short," said the Doctor from the console, biting back a smile.

Sam glared at him. "Well at least I'm not a skinny idiot like you!"

The Doctor, who was (in this incarnation) six foot one, was silently chuckling. "Oh, I'm gonna get you," said Sam, steaming.

"I would love to see that," said the Doctor, raising an eyebrow. Sam, startled at the sudden innuendo, blushed. The Doctor laughed and fiddled with some of the knobs on his control panel, and the TARDIS bumped gently as it physically landed somewhere. "I've got to make some repairs. For a spaceship, the TARDIS doesn't actually do much flying. Her circuits are fried. You two go outside. Get some fresh air.

Sam and Donna shrugged and went outside. They were now on top of a building in the city. "So, I was right then," said Donna. "You and the Doctor are more than just friends."

"Oh, no, we really aren't. Really," said Sam.

"Uh-huh," said Donna skeptically. "And the kissing I walked in on?"

"You didn't walk into the TARDIS, you appeared."

"Quit changing the subject, kiddo."

"'Kiddo'?" laughed Sam. "I'm not a kid, I'm thirty…six. I think. Maybe thirty five. I'm not really sure anymore."

"How old is the Doctor?" asked Donna.

"Way older than me," laughed Sam.

Donna looked intrigued. "How old?"

"Nine hundred and two," said Sam, looking off into the distance. "God, he's old."

How could he ever want someone like me?

It just occurred to Sam how very naïve he'd been about the whole thing. The Doctor had been alive a lot longer than him, and would probably be long after Sam was gone. A human male was approximated to live seventy two years. Just seventy two years. If Sam was thirty six, that meant half of his life was over. To a Time Lord like the Doctor, seventy two years was the blink of an eye.

"I've been an idiot, Donna," said Sam, sitting down on the edge of the building, letting his feet dangle idly over the side, watching the tiny cars drive along the ribbon of street on the ground far below.

Donna sat beside him. "You wanna talk about it?" she asked.

Sam smiled balefully and shook his head. "I'm okay. I'm just glad I'm finally making sense."

"Yeah…" Donna looked at her watch briefly then stared down at the scene below, looking sad.

"We missed it, didn't we? Your wedding," said Sam.

Donna nodded.

"Sorry," said Sam. Donna shrugged and hugged her arms. "Oh, here," said Sam, shedding his jacket and wrapping it around Donna's shoulders.

"Thanks," Donna muttered. "I mean for everything. For rescuing me from that robot. Even if I did miss my wedding."

Sam chuckled humorlessly. "Now there's a change. Hey, you know, you can always reschedule. I know that's not the same, but…it's not like you're not getting married at all. Still a bright side…so what's your fiancé like? This Lance bloke. How'd you meet him?"

"Well it was my job," said Donna, her face brightening at the prospect of getting to talk about her fiancé. "I'm a temp. Best temp in Chiswick too. I was working at a place called H.C. Clements. I mean, it was all a bit posh really. I'd spent the last two years at a double glazing firm. Well, I thought 'I'm never going to fit in here'. And then he made me a coffee. I mean, that just doesn't happen. Nobody gets the secretaries a coffee. And Lance, he's the head of HR! He don't need to bother with me. But he was nice, he was funny. And it turns out he thought everyone else was really snotty too. So that's how it started, me and him. One cup of coffee. That was it."

"Sounds nice," said Sam, smiling.

"He is. He really is," said Donna happily.

The Doctor emerged from the TARDIS then, looking confused. He came and sat down on the other side of Sam. "Something's wrong with her. She's…digesting or something."

"Could it have something to do with Canary Wharf, Doctor?" asked Sam.

"No," said the Doctor. "It's like she absorbed some sort of energy or something. Donna, has there been anything strange happen to you lately?"

Donna looked at him dubiously.

"Right, apart from this," the Doctor amended.

Donna shook her head. "Nothing I can think of."

"Well, whatever happened to you, those things will still be looking for you," said the Doctor, reaching into his pocket and pulling out a ring. "I need you to wear this."

Donna looked at the ring in distress. "Oh, do you have to rub it in?" she groaned.

"It's a biodamper, it'll make you untraceable to those creatures," the Doctor insisted.

"Oh, alright." Donna reluctantly put out her hand.

Sam leaned back a bit as the Doctor stretched over him to slide the ring onto Donna's finger. "With this ring, I thee biodamp," said the Doctor, making a bit of a joke.

Sam's eyes traveled up the Doctor's arm, then connected with the Time Lord's brown ones. The two men looked at each other for a moment, then Sam tore his gaze away. His stomach was tied up in knots.

"For better or for worse," said Donna, taking no notice of the brief exchange. She looked at the boys. "So Sam said you've seen those things before. The Santas. What are they for?"

"Ah, your basic robo-scavenger. The Father Christmas stuff is just a disguise," said the Doctor casually. "They're trying to blend in. I met them last Christmas."

"Why, what happened then?" Donna asked.

"Great big spaceship hovering over London?" said Sam incredulously. "You didn't notice?"

Donna shrugged disinterestedly. "I had a bit of a hangover."

"Question is, what do camouflaged robot mercenaries want with you? And how did you get inside the TARDIS?" the Doctor asked. He got out his sonic screwdriver and started scanning Donna with it. "It's weird. I mean, you're not special, you're not powerful, you're not connected, you're not clever, you're not important."

"Sam, you really should punch him in the face some time...stop bleeping me!"

"Fine, sorry," said the Doctor, stowing his screwdriver. He hopped up from the ledge. "Well, the TARDIS should be ready to go."

"Okay," said Donna, rising as gracefully as she could in a floor length dress. "Say, too bad that's not a time machine so you could get me to the wedding on time."

The Doctor shared a quick look with Sam. "Er, yeah. Too bad."

"Oh, this is going to be so shaming," said Donna as she went back inside the TARDIS. "You can do the explaining, Martian boy."

"Yeah. I'm not from Mars," said the Doctor as he and Sam followed her.

"Oh, I had this great big reception all planned. Everyone's going to be heartbroken…"

The Doctor paused before reentering the TARDIS. He stopped and turned to look at Sam. "You alright?"

Sam swallowed and plastered a smile to his face. "Couldn't be better."

"It's just…with Donna and everything…we didn't exactly get to talk about-"

"Oi, you coming?!" Donna shouted from inside.

The Doctor and Sam remained where they were, frozen, staring at each other.

"I'm sorry I kissed you, Doctor," said Sam, finally. "I won't do it again."

"No, but I-" said the Doctor as Sam pushed past him into the TARDIS.

 

-

 

They arrived in a festively decorated hall, where the wedding party was dancing and carousing to a holiday rock song. It was as if no one even noticed the bride's absence. Donna stood in the doorway with the Doctor and Sam, arms crossed, staring at all of them having a good time, angry and hurt.

It took a moment, but eventually their presence was noticed and the partying ceased. The music shut off with an awkward record scratch.

"You had the reception without me," Donna accused.

"Donna," said a dark skinned man in a suit, rushing forward. This must have been Lance. "What happened to you?"

"You had the reception without me?!"

The Doctor cleared his throat awkwardly. "Hello. I'm the Doctor. This is Sam."

"Hi," said Sam, awkwardly waving to the guests.

"They had the reception without me!" Donna exclaimed to them.

"Yes. I gathered," said the Doctor patronizingly.

"Well it was all paid for," said a tall blonde woman in a blue formal gown. "Why not?"

Donna glared at her. "Thank you, Nerys."

"Well, what were we supposed to do?" An elderly woman stepped forward-probably Donna's mother. "I got your silly little message in the end. 'I'm on Earth'? Very funny. What the hell happened? How did you do it? I mean, what's the trick, because I'd love to know." Everyone started chattering at once, trying to get answers. Then Donna suddenly burst into tears and everyone shut up. Lance came forward and hugged her and everyone started clapping (except Nerys). Donna smiled and winked at Sam and the Doctor over her fiancé's shoulder.

"Hey, come on, everyone, let's just forget all this and dance!" Lance announced. "Deejay, come on!"

The music started back up and the party was back on. "Come on, love, dance with me," said Lance, taking Donna's hands and leading her onto the dance floor.

Donna nodded, "stopped" crying, and followed him out.

"Oh, I love a party," said the Doctor. "Been awhile since I been to one of those. Last time I was at one, I was saving the lover of the King of France from clockwork droids."

"Good times," said Sam, chuckling.

"Yeah." The Doctor's smile faltered, and he looked at Sam. "Listen. I-"

"Hey, do you wanna dance?" That blonde woman, Nerys, had come back. She was looking at Sam.

"Um…sure," said Sam, taking her hand. She practically dragged him out onto the dance floor.

The Doctor watched them go. He was very quiet.

 

-

 

"It's just, she's such an attention whore," Nerys was saying to Sam. "I mean, it's her own wedding, and she wants the spotlight so much that she has to pull a disappearing act? Who does that?"

"Dunno," said Sam dully. He looked across the room. The Doctor was looking at someone's phone.

"I asked you a question!" Nerys snapped.

"Oh, what?" Sam asked.

"I said, where'd she go? She arrived here with you, didn't she?"

"Well, she showed up in me and my friend's…car. Just, out of the blue. Can't really explain it."

Nerys looked annoyed. Sam got the feeling the only reason she'd asked him to dance was to weasel information out of him. Sam felt very awkward dancing with her. She towered over him, plus she was very nicely dressed, and here Sam was in trainers, jeans, and a hoodie. Sam looked for the Doctor again. Now he was standing with the wedding photographer, inspecting the wedding video.

He's not concerned about me, Sam thought to himself, a little glumly.

All of a sudden, the Doctor looked across at Donna, still dancing happily with Lance, eyes wide. Something was wrong.

"Excuse me," said Sam, stepping away from the bridesmaid. Nerys looked offended and stomped away, but Sam took no notice. He followed after his companion as the Doctor took off and dashed backstage.

"Doctor?!" Sam found the skinny man standing at a window, looking terrified. "What's wrong?" Sam looked out the window too. "Oh no!"

The Santas were back. "They followed her," said Sam. "I thought you said that ring would protect her!"

"Well it didn't, come on!" The Doctor grabbed his hand out of instinct, then promptly dropped it. He settled for just running off, Sam in tow.

 

-

 

The Robo-Santas attacked the party, and panic ensued. Luckily, the Doctor managed to outsmart them. He destroyed the robots by plugging his sonic screwdriver in the sound system. He discovered from one of their severed heads that something was controlling the roboforms. They weren't acting of their own accord this time. "By why is it me?" Donna asked. "What have I done?"

"If we find the controller, we'll find that out. Ooh! It's up there. Something in the sky..."

"What do we do?" Sam said.

"We have to go to Donna's workplace. I think that's where it all started," said the Doctor.

"What, H.C. Clements?" said Donna.

"Yeah, I looked it up," said the Doctor. "Sam…its sole proprietor is Torchwood."

"Them again," said Sam, shoving his hands in his pockets.

"What's Torchwood?" Donna asked.

"They were behind all the Cybermen and Daleks in London, about six months ago…remember?" said Sam.

Donna shrugged. "I was in Spain."

"There were Cybermen in Spain."

"Scuba diving."

"Ugh, how do you keep missing all these extraterrestrial events?" Sam questioned.

"Lance!" the Doctor exclaimed, grabbing the groom's shoulder. "We need to get H.C. Clements, pronto. Can you drive us? Excellent. Let's go."

 

-

 

"So, Doctor, what's going on?" Sam said as they rushed inside the office building where Donna and Lance worked.

"Well, Torchwood was destroyed, but H.C. Clements stayed in business. I think someone else came in and took over the operation," said the Doctor.

"But what do they want with me?" Donna asked fearfully.

"Somehow you've been dosed with Huon energy. And that's a problem, because Huon energy hasn't existed since the Dark Times. The only place you'd find a Huon particle now is a remnant in the heart of the TARDIS. See? That's what happened. Say that's the TARDIS." The Doctor picked up a coffee mug. "And that's you." The Doctor picked up a pencil. "The particles inside you activated. The two sets of particles magnetized and whap." The Doctor shook the mug and the pencil, then dropped the pencil inside the mug. "You were pulled inside the TARDIS."

"I'm a pencil inside a mug," said Donna.

"Yes you are, 4H, sums you up. Lance? What was H.C. Clements working on? Anything top secret? Special operations? Do not enter?"

"I don't know, I'm in charge of personnel. I wasn't project manager," said Lance. "H.C. Clements produces security systems. Entry codes, ID cards, that sort of thing. Why am I even explaining myself? What the hell are we talking about?!"

The Doctor was fiddling with a computer. He made it pull up a floor plan of the building. "They make keys, that's the point. And look at this. We're on the third floor…" The Doctor jumped up and made Sam, Donna, and Lance follow him to the lift. "Underneath reception, there's a basement, yes? Then how come when you look on the lift, there's a button marked 'lower basement'? There's a whole floor which doesn't exist on the official plans. So what's down there, then?"

"Are you telling me this building's got a secret floor?" Lance snorted.

"No, I'm showing you this building's got a secret floor," said the Doctor.

"It needs a key," said Sam.

"I don't." The Doctor pulled out his sonic and scanned the button, which produced some sparks and unlocked. "Right then. Thanks, you two. I can handle this. See you later. Maybe take Sam with you, keep him out of trouble."

"No chance, Martian. You're the man who keeps saving my life. I ain't letting you out of my sight." Donna girted up the loins of her gown and tromped onto the lift with the Doctor.

"Going down," said the Doctor.

"Lance?" said Donna.

Lance hesitated. "Maybe I should go to the police."

"Inside," Donna ordered.

Lance got into the lift.

"To honor and obey?" the Doctor asked.

"Tell me about it, mate," Lance said.

"Oi," Donna warned.

The Doctor looked at his traveling partner, who was still outside the lift. "Sam?"

Sam had his arms crossed. "You were going to abandon me?"

"What?" said the Doctor.

Sam nodded to the bride and groom. "You told them to take me with them. You were just gonna leave me again? After all the trouble you went to to keep me with you after Canary Wharf?"

"Well…" The Doctor blinked. "Well, I-"

"How many times do I have to tell you, Doctor? I'm not leaving you. It's you and me. That's what you said last Christmas, wasn't it?" Sam said. Then he paused. "Unless you just…want me to go."

"No," said the Doctor emotionally, stepping off the elevator, into the hallway with Sam. "Of course I don't want you to go."

"Oi, could you possibly do this later?" Lance said. The Doctor pointed the screwdriver behind him, making the lift doors close, his eyes not leaving Sam's for a moment.

"Sam…I don't know what I'd do without you," said the Doctor softly. Sam realized that the Doctor was holding his hands, and standing very, very close.

"Doctor…" Sam's mouth was dry, and his heart was beating so hard he was sure the Doctor could hear it. "I don't want to leave. We…we're a team." We belong together. I need you.

I think I love you.

"I'm sorry," the Doctor apologized. "I just meant until whatever's trying to get Donna was out of the way. You know I'll always come back for you."

"Yeah," said Sam softly. "Yeah, I do know."

Time seemed to freeze as the Doctor leaned closer. The Doctor was going to kiss him! Sam's eyes threatened to flutter shut, his arms to twine themselves around the Time Lord's skinny neck, his lips to connect with the Doctor's and kiss back. But Sam quickly stepped around the Doctor, pressing the down button on the elevator. The doors promptly opened and Sam stepped inside, muttering, "Come on." The Doctor had no choice but to follow.

Chapter Text

The elevator took them down to a secret corridor, lit in eerie green. "Where are we?" Donna asked, looking around. "What goes on down here?"

"Let's find out," said the Doctor.

"Do you think Mr. Clements knows about this place?" Donna said.

"The mysterious Mister Clements? He's probably part of it," said the Doctor. Then he spotted something and grinned. "Ooh, transport!"

"No way," Sam said.

Off to the side, there were a couple of Segways parked for security to use. "Come on," said the Doctor, hopping onto one. "We'll use these. It'll be faster."

"But there's only two," said Sam. "There's four of us."

"Oh, right," said the Doctor. "Well, I guess we'll have to double up. Lance, you and the almost missus, and Sam…er…I guess you can ride with me."

Donna shot Sam a meaningful look as she hopped onto the back of the Segway with her fiancé. Sam ignored her and reluctantly climbed on with the Doctor and was forced to wrap his arms around the other man's skinny waist. Sam didn't want to admit it, but holding the Doctor felt really good.

"Right then," said the Doctor normally, as if Sam hugging him from behind didn't make any difference to him. "Allons-y!"

The Doctor and Lance started their Segway and scooted down the hallway. Suddenly, Donna began to chuckle. Then it was full out laughter. Sam and the Doctor soon joined her. Their lives had been at stake so many times today, and now here they were, just rolling along in a pair of freaking Segways, for God's sake!

Lance didn't get the joke. He stared at the three of them as if they were mad.

"Okay, hold it," the Doctor called, pulling to a stop. Sam hastily let go of him and hopped down from the Segway. Lance and Donna followed suit. The Doctor went over to a door in the wall. He scanned it with his sonic, then turned the wheel and opened it. The hatch led to a small room with a ladder leading up.

"What're you doing?" Donna asked him.

"Getting my bearings," the Doctor replied as he prepared to climb the ladder. "Wait here. Don't do anything." And with that, the skinny Time Lord was scrabbling up the ladder.

Sam, Donna, and Lance watched him ascend. "He's got a nice arse, doesn't he?" Donna whispered to Sam.

"Yeah," said Sam without thinking.

"Ooh, I knew you'd been looking!" Donna crowed triumphantly.

"Shut up, I have not!" Sam exclaimed, a betraying blush crawling up his cheeks.

"Donna," said Lance in hushed tones. "Have you thought about this? Properly? I mean, this is serious! What the hell are we going to do?"

Donna looked surprised, as if she'd forgotten he was there. "Oh! I thought July."

Lance sighed in disgust.

Pretty soon, the Doctor came back down. "Thames flood barrier," he said. "Right on top of us. Torchwood must have snuck in and built this place underneath."

"What, like there's a secret base hidden underneath a major London landmark?" Donna asked.

"I know. Unheard of." The Doctor winked at Sam. "Now, what's over here?"

They all went through a door leading into a huge, futuristic laboratory, filled with gigantic bubbling tubes. "Ooh, look at this!" the Doctor said, running over to one. "Stunning!"

"What's it do?" Donna said.

"Particle extrusion," said the Doctor, examining one of the tube apparatuses. "Hold on…brilliant! They've been manufacturing Huon particles! Course, my people got rid of Huon particles. They unravel the atomic structure."

"Your people?" Lance asked confusedly. "Who are they? What company do you represent?"

"Alien, Time Lord, try to keep up," Sam muttered to him.

"I'm just a freelancer," the Doctor added. "But this lot are rebuilding them. They've been using the river. Extruding them though a flat hydrogen base so they've got the end result-Huon particles in liquid form!" He held up a small vial of the water and slipped it in his pocket.

"So the Huon's in the water, then?" Sam asked. "Is that safe?"

"Oh, it's just this water here. Perfectly safe. No environmental hazards."

"Then how did it get inside Donna?" Sam asked.

"Dunno," said the Doctor, not really paying attention. He was still marveling at Torchwood's work. "Somehow, she must have consumed some of this water."

Donna gagged. "I drank what?!"

"Donna, think," said Sam, turning to her. "Did you drink water from any unusual place?"

Donna thought, then shrugged. "Just the tap. And from bottles."

"Well it couldn't have been from there. You're the only one that showed up in the TARDIS, so you're the only one that could have been drugged. It had to be from someplace special, someplace only you would drink from." Sam thought for a moment. "Well, water's used to make lots of things as well. It wasn't necessarily just water by itself. It could've been tea, or, or…"

"Maybe it was the coffee," laughed Donna.

Sam looked her. "What did you say?"

"Well, the coffee at work's always pretty watery. I didn't say anything, I thought Lance was just rubbish at making coffee."

"Hey!" Lance said.

"Coffee? But then, wouldn't everyone at H.C. Clements be drugged with these Huon particles?" Sam said. "Unless…"

Realization dawned on him. "Unless someone made a cup of coffee especially for Donna," Sam said, whirling around to look at Lance.

"What?!" said Lance. "Me?! Why're you lookin' at me?!"

"Your coffee was always pretty strong, I'll bet," Sam said menacingly. "Stronger than hers. It was probably because yours wasn't diluted with Huon water like hers. Was it?!"

"I-I don't know what you mean, mate!" Lance stammered, backing up.

"That was the reason you brought coffee to Donna," Sam accused, advancing on him. "'No one ever brings the secretaries a coffee.' That's what you said, wasn't it, Donna? Why would you be any different? Unless someone was using you."

Donna looked at Lance in shock. "Is this true?"

"No, babe, of course it's not, I swear!" Lance exclaimed.

"Donna, think about it! I mean, really think!" Sam said.

"But…" Donna blinked several times. "But…he loves me. Don't you?"

"Yes, of course, I do!" said Lance desperately. "This guy and his space boyfriend are clearly insane! We should just go, right now-"

"Oh, it is too late for that," a loud voice from nowhere hissed.

Suddenly, a wall on the other side of the laboratory opened up to reveal a large chamber where there was a huge hole in the center of the room. A huge, matted web was strung across the ceiling. "So long I have waited, hibernating at the edge of the universe until the secret heart was uncovered and called out to waken!"

More of the robots that had crashed the wedding party and had attacked them in the city were standing on either side of the new room, this time dressed in plain black robes and armed with large guns, which they pointed at them. Panicking, Lance ran away.

"Oi, get back here!" Sam called. "Doctor, he's the one-"

"I know, Sam," said the Doctor. "We'll get him. Don't worry."

The Doctor strolled over to where the hole was, hands in the pockets of his brown pinstripe trousers. It seemed like a familiar gesture to Sam and it pulled on his heartstrings. He had a quick flash of the tall blonde Doctor in the cricket uniform, standing the same way. He closed his eyes and shook off the memory. He didn't have time for all that confusion right now.

"Someone's been digging," said the Doctor, studying the hole. "Oh, very Torchwood. Drilled by laser. Tell me, how deep does this chasm go?"

"Down and down, all the way to the center of the Earth!" the voice replied.

"Impossible," said Sam.

"Improbable," the Doctor corrected. "But not impossible. An ordinary drill would never make it very far past the outer mantle. But a powerful enough laser, with a little time, could make it."

"You'd fall forever," said Sam, thinking about how deep that hole would be.

"You'd disintegrate before you reached the bottom," said the Doctor. "But the question is, why dig a hole to the center of the Earth?"

Donna came to the Doctor's side. "Dinosaurs?" she asked.

The Doctor looked Donna in bewilderment. "What?"

"Dinosaurs?" said Donna, shrugging.

"What are you on about, dinosaurs?" the Doctor asked.

"That film, under the Earth, with dinosaurs. Trying to help."

"That's not helping."

"Most likely trying to find an alternate energy source. Maybe digging for more fossil fuels," Sam theorized.

The Doctor smiled at him with pure love and pride. "Atta boy, Sam. Clever to a fault." Sam could feel himself blushing again and looked away.

"Such a sweet couple," the mysterious voice hissed.

"Only a madman talks to thin air, and trust me, you don't want to make me mad," said the Doctor, staring around the room, trying to discern where the voice was projecting from.

"High in the sky. Floating so high on Christmas night."

"I didn't come all this way to talk on the intercom!" the Doctor called. "Come on, let's have a look at you."

"Who are you with such command?"

"I'm the Doctor," said the Time Lord darkly, and Sam felt a slight shudder at the authority in his voice.

"Prepare your best medicines, doctor man, for you will be sick at heart!"

Suddenly, across the room, there was a bright light as the thing teleported in.

"Ugh!" Donna cried.

The thing looked like a cross between a centaur and a giant, bright red arachnid. Its body was a spider, which sprouted half of a humanish body. The person portion was as scarlet as the rest of its body, with gleaming black eyes, pincers, sharpened teeth, and a webbed headpiece with more eyes. It was hissing and spitting and waving some of its front legs at them.

"Racnoss?" the Doctor said in surprise. "But that's impossible, you're one of the Racnoss!"

"Empress of the Racnoss!" the spiderwoman spat. Her words came out in hisses and lisps.

"If you're the Empress, where's the rest of the Racnoss?" the Doctor said. "Or...are you the only one?"

"Such a sharp mind," said the Empress.

"I don't want to be speciesist," Sam muttered to the Doctor, "but I'm guessing she's not a good guy."

"Definitely not," said the Doctor. "The Racnoss come from the Dark Times, billions of years ago. Before the first Time Lord even. They were carnivores, omnivores. They devoured whole planets."

"What, like…the whole thing?" Sam gestured a circle with his hands. "Blimey…"

"Racnoss are born starving," the Empress spit. "Is that our fault?"

"They eat people?" Donna asked fearfully.

"H.C. Clements, did he wear those, those, er, black and white shoes?" the Doctor asked.

"He did," said Donna. "We used to laugh. We used to call him the fat cat in spats."

The Doctor pointed to a pair of feet sticking out of the web across the ceiling. They were wearing the black and white shoes.

"Oh my God!" Donna exclaimed, covering her mouth in shock.

"Mmm. My Christmas dinner," the Empress cackled.

"You shouldn't even exist," the Doctor said to her. "Way back in history, the fledgling Empires went to war against the Racnoss. They were wiped out."

"Except for me!"

Sam felt Donna poke him. He followed her gaze to across the room behind the giant monster. There was someone standing on the spectator's ledge. It was Lance!

Lance put his finger to his lips, signaling them to be quiet. He held up an axe and mimed striking the Racnoss with it.

Sam was surprised. Perhaps Lance had had a change of heart. Perhaps he just hadn't known about the Huon particles in Donna's coffee. Christmas was a time for miracles, after all.

"But that's what I've got inside me," Donna called up to the Racnoss, distracting her so that her fiancé could have time to sneak up on her. "That Huon energy thing. Oi! Look at me, lady, I'm talking. Where do I fit in? How come

I get all stacked up with these Huon particles? Look at me, you! Look me in the eye and tell me!"

"The bride is so feisty," the Racnoss frothed.

Lance was steadily getting closer and closer. "Yes I am!" Donna cried. "And I don't know what you are, you big thing, but a spider's just a spider, and an axe is an axe! Now, do it!" she yelled to Lance.

Lance raised his axe. The Empress turned and hissed at him. Lance froze, staring at the creature, axe hanging aloft in his hands. Suddenly, he looked at Donna and began to laugh. After a moment, the Empress joined in. "That was a good one. Your face!" Lance exclaimed maliciously, pointing at Donna.

"Lance is funny," the Racnoss agreed, snickering.

Donna's face fell. "What?"

"I'm sorry," Sam muttered.

"Sorry for what? Lance, don't be so stupid! Get her!" Donna shouted.

"God, she's thick!" Lance proclaimed. "Months I've had to put up with her. Months! A woman who can't even point to Germany on a map."

"You shut up!" Sam exclaimed.

Donna looked so crestfallen. "So he really was poisoning me. You were right, Sam."

"Now she gets it!" Lance said.

"But we were getting married!" Donna said confusedly.

"Well, I couldn't risk you running off," said Lance, shrugging. "I had to say yes. And then I was stuck with a woman who thinks the height of excitement is a new flavor Pringle. Oh, I had to sit there and listen to all that yap, yap, yap. Oh, Brad and Angelina. Is Posh pregnant? X Factor, Atkins diet, feng shui, split ends, text me, text me, text me! Dear God, the never ending fountain of fat, stupid trivia. I deserve a medal!"

"Oh, is that what she's offered you? The Empress of the Racnoss? What are you, her consort?" the Doctor asked.

"It's better than a night with her," said Lance, pointing to Donna.

Ew, thought Sam.

Donna was trembling as she was trying not to cry. "But I love you," she said quietly.

"That's what made it easy," said Lance cruelly. "It's like you said, Doctor. The big picture. What's the point of it all if the human race is nothing? That's what the Empress can give me. The chance to go out there. To see it. The size of it all. I think you understand that, don't you, Doctor?"

"Who is this little physician?" the Empress inquired.

"She said Martian," Lance replied.

"Oh, I'm sort of homeless," the Doctor shrugged. "But the point is, what's down here? The Racnoss are extinct. What's going to help you four thousand miles down? That's just the molten core of the Earth, isn't it?"

"I think he wants us to talk," Lance laughed derisively.

"I think so, too," the Empress hissed back.

"Well, tough! All we need is Donna," Lance called.

"Kill this chattering little doctor man!" the Empress ordered.

"DON'T YOU HURT HIM!" Sam bellowed fiercely, immediately stepping in front of his Time Lord.

"And his sweet little pet as well!" the Racnoss added.

"No, no, Sam. It's all right," said the Doctor, touching Sam's shoulder.

"No, I won't let them!" Sam declared, his face twisted into a snarl as he glared at the Racnoss and the poisonous Lance.

"At arms!" At the Empress's command, all the robots on the sidelines who'd been quiet this whole time, pointed their guns at the Doctor and Sam.

"Ah, now, except-"

"Take aim!"

"Well, I just want to point out the obvious-"

"They won't hit the bride. They're such very good shots," the Empress hissed.

"Just, just, just, just, just hold on! Hold on just a tick. Just a tiny little, just a little tick." The Doctor jumped around. "If you think about it, the particles activated in Donna and drew her inside my spaceship. So reverse it…" The Doctor pulled a Huon container out and twisted the knob on top. Donna immediately began to glow golden with energy. "…and the spaceship comes to her."

Sam smiled widely as he heard the familiar wheezing of the TARDIS-faint at first, then stronger, as the control room began to appear around them.

"Fire!" screeched the Racnoss, but it was too late. The trio was already safe and snug inside the TARDIS.

Chapter Text

"Off we go!" said the Doctor, hurrying over to the console and getting them out of there. "Oh, do you know what we said before about time machines? Well, we lied. And now we're going to use it. We need to find out what the Empress of the Racnoss is digging up. If something's buried at the planet's core, it must've been there since the beginning. That's just brilliant. Molto bene! I've always wanted to see this. Donna, Sam, we're going further back than I've ever been before!"

The Doctor hadn't notice that Donna was crying.

"Hey," said Sam, coming over to her, taking her hand. "I'm sorry. Really, I am."

"He-he told me he loved me," Donna stuttered, tears streaking down her face.

"I know, and he's a rat. A bloody filthy sewer rat, who deserves to have his wanker cut off," said Sam, petting her shoulder.

Donna gasped as she tried to breath in, calm herself down. "I-is it true? What h-he said? That I'm…dull and stupid?"

"No, no, of course you aren't," said Sam, shaking his head fervently. "You're funny and bloody brilliant."

"The-then why would he do this?" Donna whimpered, wiping her cheeks.

"You know what, Donna?" said Sam, looking straight into her eyes. "Fuck him. Fuck him! He doesn't deserve you! He's scum, pure scum."

"Yeah," said Donna, nodding. She sniffled hard. "Yeah, he is! Fuck him! He's a piece of shit! He never loved me, he just used me, and you're right, Sam! If he wants to marry to a big ugly spider from space, well, just let him! She'll probably eat him on the wedding night!"

"That's right," said Sam, smiling encouragingly. "Fuck him."

Donna was smiling, but she still had some tears left in her, so Sam hugged her while she cried.

"Thanks," she sniffled. "You really are a great guy, Sam. If only you weren't gay."

"I'm not gay, Donna."

"Yeah, you kind of are," said Donna, looking over at the Doctor, then back at Sam.

Sam sighed.

The Doctor then cleared his throat from across the room. "We've arrived," he said cautiously. "Want to see?"

Donna shrugged listlessly. "I suppose," she said.

"No human's ever seen this. You two'll be the first," the Doctor said, leading them to the front door.

"All I want to see is my bed," said Donna sadly.

The Doctor opened the front doors of the TARDIS. "Donna Noble, Sam Tyler…welcome to the creation of the Earth."

Sam looked out in amazement. He could never get over how beautiful space was. The sky was not black, but a whole spectrum of pinks and purples and oranges. The gas that had yet to form planets and stars wisped around, forming rainbow clouds. There were bits of rocks floating around, like goldfish in a bowl.

"We've gone back four point six billion years," said the Doctor. "There's no solar system, not yet. Only dust and rocks and gas. That's the Sun, over there. Brand new. Just beginning to burn."

"Where's the Earth?" asked Donna.

"All around us," the Doctor replied. "In the dust."

"Puts the wedding in perspective," said Donna. "Lance was right, we're just tiny."

"In a whole universe that's always growing and expanding, always pushing its own limits, going on forever and forever…we are so small and insignificant," Sam said in wonder. "Doesn't it make you feel cold?"

The Doctor smiled at him, then looked back out at the grand vista. "But the question is, what was that first rock?"

"Doctor, look," Sam said, pointing out there. Out of a red gas cloud, a spiky looking conglomerate came floating out.

"That's the Racnoss?" Sam asked the Doctor.

"Yes," said the Doctor. "But what are they doing?"

His question was about to be answered. The pointed ship started to glow, like the Huon energy, and all the rocks around it were pulled in and stuck to the ship.

"Oh, they didn't just bury something at the center of the Earth," said the Doctor.

"They became the center of the Earth?" Sam finished for him.

"Yes. There's a whole nest of Racnoss waiting in the Earth's core, and the Empress is preparing to release them. We gotta get out of here!"

 

-

 

The Empress hissed in anger as the Doctor dismantled her roboforms. "My children will feast on Martian flesh," she spat at the Doctor.

"Oh, but I'm not from Mars," said the Doctor darkly.

"Then where?"

The Doctor's voice was full of command, and Sam could see the Oncoming Storm thundering inside his soul. "My home planet is far away and long since gone. But its name lives on."

Sam's skin started tingling. His heart and stomach were dancing a fast-paced salsa.

"Gallifrey."

At the very word, Sam's brain was overtaken by a surge of memories. A giant school where the students wore rust colored robes; a large field covered in red grass and lavender wild flowers, in the distance silver forests and white capped mountains; a city made of gold, entrapped in a bubble; war, a terrible war; a young boy with golden curls holding him, telling him he loved him.

ONE, TWO, THREE, FOUR. ONE, TWO, THREE, FOUR. ONE, TWO, THREE, FOUR.

"Sam!" The man had collapsed, clutching his head. "SAM!" the Doctor cried again as Sam, in agony, rolled over, off of the balcony they were standing on onto the hard tile floor below. "SAM!"

"I got him!" Donna exclaimed, rushing over to the unconscious man. She laid her head on his chest. "Still breathin'! Probably just got some bad bruises," she called to the Doctor.

The Doctor glared at the Racnoss. "What have you done to him?!"

"The weakling mortal's swooning spell was none of my doing," the spider cackled.

"You're lying," the Doctor growled. "You've just hurt someone I care about very, very much. That is not a smart move."

The Doctor pulled some of the roboforms' explosive Christmas baubles out of his pocket and threw them into the air. With the robots' controller, he guided them to certain locations in the facility-some to a water main, which caused the pipes to burst and flood the place. Some others went to gas vents, which caused the room to light on fire. The Racnoss stood in the middle of it all, howling for mercy. The building was perishing twice, once in fire, once in ice. And the Doctor stood over all of it, watching as it all went down.

"Doctor!" Donna cried. "You can stop now!"

The Doctor seemed unreachable, hatred blazing in his eyes.

"Doctor!" Donna screamed. "Is this what Sam would want?!"

The Doctor blinked, coming back to himself. He looked down at the bride in shock.

"Come on!" he exclaimed, running down to her and his unconscious companion. He scooped Sam up into his arms. The shorter man didn't stir. He was out cold-he must have hit his head badly. "Let's go!"

"NOOOOOO! MY CHILDREN!" the Empress wailed, as she and the rest of her kind burned.

 

-

 

The little blue spaceship materialized outside of Donna's house in Chiswick. Donna and the Doctor stepped out. "All the Huon particles should be gone," the Doctor told her. "No damage, you're fine."

"Yeah, but apart from that, I missed my wedding, lost my job and became a widow on the same day," Donna said glumly.

The Doctor looked at her sadly. "I couldn't save him," he said.

"He deserved it…no, he didn't. Will Sam be alright?" Donna asked, looking concerned.

The Doctor nodded. "Should be. Nevertheless, think I'll take him to a hospital, get him checked out. Just to be sure."

"But you're a Doctor," said Donna.

"Not that kind."

Donna sighed. "I'd better get inside." She looked over her shoulder. "They'll be worried."

"Best Christmas present they could have," said the Doctor. "Oh no, I forgot. You hate Christmas."

"Yes, I do," Donna agreed.

The Doctor raised an eyebrow. "Even…" He reached inside the TARDIS and touched something in the inner doorframe, which made the light on top of the box turn yellow and shoot a beam into the night sky. "…if it snows?" Suddenly, white flakes began to fall.

Donna gasped, staring at the snow in wonder. "I can't believe you did that!"

"Oh, basic atmospheric excitation," said the Doctor, shrugging.

Donna laughed. "Merry Christmas."

"And you," the Doctor replied. "So, what will you do with yourself now?"

"Not getting married, for starters," said Donna, rolling her eyes. "And I'm not going to temp anymore!...I don't know. Travel. See a bit more of planet Earth. Walk in the dust. Just go out there and do something."

"Well, you could always…" The Doctor trailed off.

"What?" Donna asked.

The Doctor shrugged. "Come with us."

Donna smiled sadly. "No."

"Okay."

"I can't."

"No, that's fine."

"No, but really. Everything we did today. Do you live your life like that? You and Sam?"

"Not all the time," the Doctor said.

"I think you do," Donna said. "And I…couldn't."

"But you've seen it out there. It's beautiful."

"And it's terrible," Donna amended. "That place was flooding and burning and they were dying, and you were stood there like…I don't know…a stranger. And then you made it snow, I mean, you scare me to death!"

The Doctor nodded reluctantly. "Right. Thanks then, Donna. Good luck. And just…be magnificent."

Donna watched sadly as the blue box disappeared into the night.

 

-

 

Sam cracked his eyes open.

He was lying on his back, and he was in a big white room. There were several people in white coats standing around him, and one big bald bloke in an ugly striped suit. He could hear rain somewhere, distantly.

Sam's head lolled to the side. There was a dark young woman with her hand on his chest. Finding his heartbeat. "Doc…" he murmured.

"It's alright, Mister Tyler," said the woman. "You've had a bump on the head, cracked a few ribs, but-"

Sam didn't hear the rest. He was already passing out again.

The next time Sam woke up, he was still lying in the same place, but he was alone. He heard a thumping noise, like marching, but super heavy. He blinked a few times and tried to raise his head. It immediately made his brain swim.

He looked out the door that was place directly in front of his bed. There were big, darkly dressed soldiers passing by his room. Sam blinked confusedly. They…no, that was impossible! They looked like…they looked like rhinoceroses!

One turned and entered his room. It pulled out a flashlight looking device and shined a blue light in his face. "Human. You will be catalogued," it said a very low, computerized sounding voice. It grabbed his hand and marked a black X on the back of it with a marker. Then it turned and stomped back out.

Sam groaned and fell back asleep.

The third time he woke up, he was back in his bedroom on the TARDIS. His head was throbbing slightly, and his torso felt stiff. Sam then realized he was wearing bandages around his chest. He grunted as he tried to sit up.

"Oh, don't get up!" a female voice exclaimed. Sam's head whipped around as the woman from the white room got up from his armchair in the corner and hurried over to him. "Are you alright?" she asked, immediately taking his wrist-checking his pulse.

"Um…yeah," said Sam slowly.

"Sorry. The Doctor asked me to keep an eye on you," said the woman. She was pretty. She was slender, with long dark brown hair pinned up in a spiky bun, and she had big dark eyes and long lashes. She had shed the lab coat she was wearing before and was now dressed in blue jeans, brown boots, and a pinkish-purple top with spaghetti straps.

"How do you know the Doctor?" Sam asked.

"Oh, well…" The lady laughed. "That's a long story. First, he admitted you to the hospital. He said you had a bad fall, hit your head. I was the one who did your checkup. I'm a medical student. Anyway, you had a concussion, but you should be alright."

Sam tenderly patted the back of his head. It was a little sore. "Um, well…thank you."

"No problem," said the woman, smiling.

"But…we're not in the hospital anymore. This is my bedroom," said Sam, looking around in confusion.

"Well, yeah. You were okay, so the Doctor brought you back here," said the woman.

"But…well, I don't mean to be rude, but…I don't think you have to take care of me once I leave the hospital, right?" Sam laughed a little, but it wasn't a funny laugh.

"Oh. Well. That's the other thing." The woman grinned. "The Doctor asked me to travel with him!"

Sam stared at her in shock.

Chapter Text

"I would not wish any companion in the world but you." –Miranda, "The Tempest", Act 3, Scene 1


Sam carefully ambled his way down the stairs, holding his torso. "There he is!" the Doctor called as he came down. "Man of the hour. How are you, Sam?"

"Alright," grunted Sam as he continued to struggle to descend.

"You want me to help you?" said the woman, Martha Jones, the Doctor's new companion, starting to walk over to him.

"No! No, I got it." Sam got down off the final step, then walked normally over to the console where they were standing. He was fine on solid ground, but with stairs, not so much.

"I was worried about you. You didn't wake up for two days. Missed an invasion-on the moon!" said the Doctor gleefully.

Martha nodded in agreement. "The hospital where I worked was, I don't know, transported there or something by these really big rhino-looking creatures-"

"Wait," said Sam, blinking several times. "You mean I didn't imagine that?"

"Nope!" said the Doctor. "Those were the Judoon. Space mercenaries, hired to seek out a plasmavore who had killed the young princess of a small planet…well, anyway, long story short, Martha saved the day! Hooray!" The Doctor beamed at her. "And as a reward, I told her I'd take her on a trip. Least I could do, after she saved my life. And patched you up, too. Not bad, for a day in the life of a medical student."

Martha blushed. "Really, it was nothing."

"So…Martha's coming with us?" Sam said.

"Yup," said the Doctor, rocking forward on his plimsolls.

"But just for one trip," Martha added, looking at the Doctor. She was smiling at him in a way that Sam thought was all too familiar. "Then he's taking me back home."

"Oh. Kay." Sam felt a tiny bit of relief. Not that he cared if the Doctor had someone else on board. Why should he? "So…where are we going?"

The Doctor grinned, grabbed his long trenchcoat off of the hatstand and threw it on. He stood in front of the door. "Outside this door…brave new world."

"Where are we?" Sam and Martha asked at the same time, then looked at each other queerly.

The Doctor smiled sneakily. He opened the door and said, "Take a look."

Martha grinned and quickly dashed outside. Sam followed her, only to give the Doctor a quizzical look. The Doctor shrugged, smiling mischievously. Sam gave him a silent "I'm watching you, Time Lord" gesture, then followed the woman out.


"Who ever loved that loved not at first sight?" –Phoebe, "As You Like It", Act 5, Scene 2


They had actually turned up in Elizabethan times. The Doctor revealed that he planned to take them to see a play by none other than William Shakespeare.

"Shakespeare," Sam said to himself. "Not bad. My first outing, he took me to see the Earth burn to a crisp."

"Isn't this exciting?!" Martha had come up beside him and grabbed his arm. "I mean, we've bloody traveled in time! And now we're about to go see a Shakespeare play at the Globe Theatre! Do you think he'll be there? William Shakespeare, I mean. Maybe we'll get to meet him! Imagine that, getting to say you've met William Shakespeare. Oh, Sam, you don't know how lucky you are! To get to do this all the time. See so many different places and times…and with such a wonderful man." Martha's gaze was on the Doctor, who was walking ahead, looking around at the scenery, paying them no mind.

"Pardon?" said Sam, giving her a look.

Martha's cheeks darkened. "Oh…um. Don't tell him I said that. It's just…well, he is handsome. Isn't he?"

Sam started getting a sour feeling in his stomach about Miss Martha Jones. "Dunno. Guess," he said, trying not to sound short or shove her hand off of his arm.

"Sam! Martha!" the Doctor called. As they hurried over to him, he pointed. "There it is! The Globe Theater. Well, technically, not a globe, it's actually a tetra-decagon, but still. Newly built. And inside, the one and only."

"Oh my God," said Martha, amazed.

"Close. William Shakespeare," the Time Lord said, grinning at her cheekily. He offered her his elbow. "Miss Jones, would you accompany me to the theatre?"

"Mister Smith, I think I will," said Martha, gushing as she linked arms with him.

Sam watched them go off together, and muttered to himself, "And Mister Tyler will just sod off, I guess." Then he stomped after them.


"Nor hath Love's mind of any judgment taste/wings and no eyes figure unheedy haste/and therefore is Love said to be a child/because in choice he is so oft beguiled." –Helena, "A Midsummer Night's Dream", Act 1, Scene 1.


Even though something about Martha's presence (and her apparent infatuation with the Doctor) irked Sam, he very much enjoyed the production. He realized, in amazement, that he was seeing the premiere of Shakespeare's Loves Labours' Lost. As in, the very first time it was ever put on by any company ever. And under the direction of William Shakespeare himself, no less! Now this was what time travel was all about!

He, the Doctor, and Martha stood up and clapped wildly with the audience. "That's amazing! Just amazing. It's worth putting up with the smell," Martha exclaimed. "And those are men dressed as women, yeah?"

"London never changes," the Doctor quipped.

Sam laughed. "Hey, isn't Shakespeare supposed to come out and greet the audience or something? Oi, author, author!" he yelled. Then he looked at the Doctor. "Wait. Do people say that?"

Suddenly, a man behind Sam began to call, "Author, author!"

The Doctor shrugged, grinning. "They do now."

Finally, the man himself came out. Sam couldn't believe it. "But…I thought he was bald," he stammered out.

"That came later," said the Doctor, laughing.

Shakespeare waved at the audience for a few minutes. "Genius," said the Doctor, marveling. "He's a genius. The genius. The most human human there's ever been. Now we're going to hear him speak. Always he chooses the best words. New, beautiful, brilliant words-"

"Ah, shut ya big fat mouths!" Shakespeare shouted at the audience. They roared with laughter.

Sam gave the Doctor a smug look. "You were saying?"

The Doctor looked slightly disappointed. "Oh, well," he shrugged.

"You should never meet your heroes, they always say," Martha added.

Shakespeare looked out into the crowd. "I know what you're all saying. Loves Labour's Lost, that's a funny ending, isn't it? It just stops! Will the boys get the girls?...well, don't get your hose in a tangle, you'll find out soon." The audience began to moan. "Yeah, yeah. All in good time. You don't rush a genius." Shakespeare bowed, making everyone laugh again.

Suddenly, he straightened. He had an odd look in his eye for an instant. "When?...Tomorrow night."

The audience cheered.

As the actors looked at each other nervously, Shakespeare went on. "The premiere of my brand new play. A sequel, no less! And I call it…Love's Labour's Won!"

The audience applauded one final time, and began to file out. Martha looked up at the Doctor quizzically. "Er, I'm no expert, but I've never heard of Love's Labour's Won."

"That's because it doesn't exist," Sam told her. "It was the one they never found, wasn't it?"

"Exactly," said the Doctor. "The lost play. And no one knows what happened to it."

"Blimey," said Sam. "It's a bit like The Da Vinci Code, isn't it?"

Martha looked Sam. "Have you got a camera phone or something? We could film it, sell it at home, make a fortune!"

"Absolutely not," said Sam and the Doctor at the same time.

Martha looked sheepish. "Bad idea?"

"Very bad," Sam replied.

They shuffled along the street with the other theater patrons. "Why did it disappear, Doctor?" Sam asked.

"Hmm…" The Doctor looked back over his shoulder at the Globe. "Well, this was only supposed to be a quick trip for Martha…but I suppose we could stay a bit longer. If that's alright with you?"

Martha grinned. "I'd love it!"

"Bet you would," Sam muttered under his breath as they turned back.


"Hear my soul speak. Of the very instant that I saw you, did my heart fly at your service." –Ferdinand, "The Tempest", Act 1, Scene 3


"Hello!" said the Doctor, poking his head into the great playwright's office. His two companions following after. "Excuse me, not interrupting, am I? Mister Shakespeare, isn't it?"

"Oh, no. No, no, no," Shakespeare groaned, rubbing his face with his hand tiresomely. "Who let you in? No autographs. No, you can't have yourself sketched with me. And please don't ask where I get my ideas from. Thanks for the interest. Now be a good boy and shove…"

Shakespeare's gaze had landed on Martha, standing on the Doctor's right. "Hey, nonny nonny," he said, grinning. "Sit right down here next to me."

"Did he actually just say 'hey, nonny nonny'," Sam muttered flatly to himself.

Martha blushed as she and the Doctor took seats before Shakespeare's desk. There were only the two, so Sam was forced to stand.

"Sweet lady," said Shakespeare, only with eyes for Martha. "Such unusual clothes. So…fitted."

"Er, verily, forsooth. Egads-" Martha began to spout.

"No, no, don't do that. Don't," the Doctor muttered to her. Sam held back a snicker.

The Doctor flashed Shakespeare his leather wallet with the psychic paper inside. "I'm Sir Doctor of TARDIS and these are my companions, Miss Martha Jones, and Sir Sam Tyler of the Powell Estates."

Sam was surprised to see the psychic paper. "When'd you get that back?" he whispered. "I thought it was lost at Canary Wharf."

"Snuck back in and got it while you were sleeping," the Doctor said with a shrug.

"Interesting, that bit of paper," said Shakespeare, pointing to the wallet. "It's blank."

The Doctor grinned widely. "Oh, that's very clever. That proves it. Absolute genius."

Wait, thought Sam. But I never see anything on the paper either!

"No, it says so right there. Sir Doctor, Martha Jones, Sir Sam. It says so," Martha insisted, also looking at the wallet. Sam peeked over her shoulder, but didn't see anything.

"And I say it's blank," Shakespeare countered. He looked at Sam. "I believe your friend agrees with me."

The Doctor and Martha looked at Sam expectantly. "Er, yeah," said Sam, blushing. "It looks blank to me, too."

"Why is it that your friend and I see naught whereas you and your delicious blackamoor lady insist there are words to read?" Shakespeare inquired of the Doctor.

"Psychic paper. Er, long story," the Doctor said.

Martha was staring at the playwright hawkishly. "What did you say? 'Blackamoor'?"

"Oops. Isn't that a word we use nowadays? An Ethiop girl? A swarth? A Queen of Afric?" Shakespeare tried.

"I can't believe I'm hearing this," said Martha.

"It's just a word they used for dark-skinned person," said Sam. "You know, like, 'Othello, the Moor of Venice'. He doesn't mean anything by it."

"Othello, the Moor of Venice," Shakespeare repeated. "An interesting turn of phrase. Is he a lover? A fighter? A cold hearted brute? Hot blooded swine? Perhaps I shall write an epic."

"You should," said Sam, winking at the Doctor.

Suddenly, a fat, bearded man in expensive clothes and wearing a gold chain of office stormed in. "Excuse me!" he blustered at Shakespeare. "Hold hard a moment. This is abominable behavior. A new play with no warning? I demand to see a script, Mister Shakespeare. As Master of the Revels, every new script must be registered at my office and examined by me before it can be performed."

"Tomorrow morning, first thing, I'll send it round," Shakespeare said.

"I don't work to your schedule, you work to mine," the man said snottily. "The script, now!"

"I can't. I haven't finished the final scene."

"Then tomorrow's performance is cancelled."

There was a ringing silence in the room. "It's all go around here, isn't it?" Martha piped up quietly.

"I'm returning to my office for a banning order," the official stated. "If it's the last thing I do, Love's Labour's Won will never be played." He turned on his heel and marched out.

They watched him go. "Well, that's a bit unfortunate. Sorry, mate," Sam said to Shakespeare.

"Well, I guess we know now," said the Doctor, looking at his two companions, careful not to say anything too revealing.

"Too bad," said Martha. "I was hoping it'd be a bit more mysterious."

Suddenly, they heard a scream from outside. The four shared a look, then rushed outside.

The official was standing in the street, geysers of water shooting from his mouth. "Bloody hell!" Sam exclaimed.

"Out of my way, I'm a Doctor!" the Time Lord cried, rushing over to the man.

"So am I," Martha added, following the Doctor's lead. "Sir? Sir, are you alright?"

But the man could not answer. He just kept spewing water from his mouth. Then, suddenly, his body became rigid. He fell onto the ground…and died!

"Oh my God!" said Martha, leaping away from the cadaver.

Sam was at the Doctor's side in a flash. Martha tried to administer CPR on the man, but more water gurgled out of his mouth. "What the hell is that?!" she said.

"I've never seen a death like it," the Doctor muttered. "His lungs are full of water. He drowned and then, I don't know…it was like a blow to the heart, an invisible blow. Good mistress," he called to Shakespeare's hostess, Dolly Bailey. "This poor fellow has died from a sudden imbalance of the humors. A natural if unfortunate demise. Call a constable and have him taken away."

"Yes, sir," said Dolly.

"I'll do it, ma'am," said the serving girl, rushing off.

"And why are you telling them that?" Sam asked him.

"This lot still have got one foot in the Dark Ages. If I tell them the truth, they'll panic and think it was witchcraft," the Doctor replied.

"Okay. What was it then?" Martha inquired.

The Doctor looked at them both, dead on. "Witchcraft."

Chapter Text

"I humbly do beseech of your pardon for too much loving you." –Iago, "Othello", Act 3, Scene 3 


Dolly showed Martha to one room and Sam and the Doctor to another. "Oops," said Sam, as they went in. "Only one bed."

The thought of Sam and the Doctor sleeping in the same bed made Sam's skin tingle in ways it really, really should not.

"So what? Plenty of room. Come on." The Doctor plopped down on the, in Sam's opinion, obscenely tiny bed.

"Er…okay," Sam said unassuredly as he sat down on the lumpy mattress next to the alien. The Doctor was sitting up with his arms crossed, lost in thought. "So…magic? Seriously? I mean, it's all kind of Harry Potter-ish, isn't it? But it's not really witchcraft, right? There's some sort of scientific explanation, isn't there, Doctor?"

"Maybe…Sam, I think we need to talk." The Doctor rolled over to look at him.

Uh oh. Here it was. Sam's mouth went dry. "What about?" he played dumb.

"You," said the Doctor. "Me. Martha."

"Oh," said Sam, trying to keep an even voice.

"You don't like her."

"What? No! She's fine. Nice enough. Interested. Why wouldn't I like her?"

"Listen, I've just been paying attention to her because this is her one trip. You've had dozens. I didn't forget about you or anything."

"No, yeah, I know," said Sam, scooting down and laying on his side. The Doctor did too, so now they were laying on the bed facing each other. Their faces were so close together, Sam could see every freckle, count every eyelash, distinguish every every miniscule wrinkle on the Time Lord's pretty face. "She's fine. Everything's fine."

The Doctor looked at him for a moment, then opened his mouth. "Sam, I just don't want you to think I picked her up…just to…"

"What? Make me jealous?" Sam laughed fakely. "Doctor…I'm not jealous. Because if I were…well, that would imply that I…and I don't. And you don't. Right? Right. So there's no problem."

The Doctor studied him. His intense yet soft brown eyes fixated on him, making Sam feel quivery all over. "Okay," said the Doctor, very, very softly.

Sam nodded firmly. He had to pretend everything was okay, he couldn't love this man, he just couldn't. "Good. Glad we got that off of our chests…g'night, Doctor," he said, rolling over so he wouldn't have to look at the heartsbreak poorly hidden behind those big brown eyes anymore.

"Goodnight, Sam."

Sam leaned up, blew out the candle, and the room went dark. But Sam didn't shut his eyes for a very long time.

Neither did the Doctor.


Suddenly, halfway into the night, the Doctor and Sam heard a woman's scream. The two men sat up at the same time, looked at each other, then wordlessly rushed out.

"What was that?!" Martha too had awoken and emerged from her room.

"Don't know, come on!" The trio rushed into Shakespeare's office, where the great playwright was fast asleep at his desk, quill still clutched in his hand, and his hostess was lying on the floor, dead.

"Whuh?" Shakespeare woke with a start as the Doctor, Martha, and Sam came in.

Martha did what a doctor would immediately do-check on Dolly. "Doctor, Sam, she's dead," said Martha.

"What?" said Shakespeare, standing up and gazing at the hostess in shock.

"Her heart gave out-died of fright," said the Doctor, also checking her.

Sam noticed that the window behind Shakespeare's desk was open. It hadn't been that way before. He walked over to it and gazed out.

Superimposed on a grand full moon, there was a dark shape hanging aloft in the sky. A woman, dressed in long robes, sitting astride a broomstick. The woman let out a high cackle as she zoomed out of sight.

"Doctor!" Sam called.

"What? What is it?" the Doctor asked, rushing to his side. "What did you see?"

"I…" Sam looked at him in bemusement. "I saw a witch."


"Doubt thou the stars are fire, doubt that the sun doth move his aides, doubt truth to be a liar, but never doubt I love." –Hamlet's letter to Ophelia, "Hamlet", Act 2, Scene 2


The night of the play, the Doctor and Martha set out to find the "witches", while Sam stayed at the Globe to make sure nothing happened during the play. But when Shakespeare had an unexpected collapse onstage, Sam immediately rushed off to find his traveling mates. He tracked them down to a house on All Hallows Street (ironic). He crept inside and hid around the corner when he saw the Doctor and Martha confronting one of the Carrionites. Martha tried to using the naming technique the Doctor had used before, but failed. The alien instead made Martha pass out. "And as for you, Sir Doctor…fascinating. There is no name," said the witch. "Why would a man hide his title in such despair? Oh. But look." She grinned evilly. "There's still one word with the power of the day."

"The naming won't work on me," said the Doctor.

"But your heart is soft! Like the fleece of a lamb. For you'd do anything for your precious…Sam."

Sam's breath caught.

The Doctor glared at her with all the rage on a 900+ year old alien. "Oh, big mistake. Because that name keeps me fighting! So whatever you're up to…" He walked up to her, nose to nose. "You've got to get past me."

"Oh, that should be a pleasure, considering my enemy has such a…" the witch ran her hand through the Doctor's brown hair. "…handsome shape."

The blood in Sam's ears thundered.

"Oh, now that's one form of magic that's definitely not going to work on me," said the Doctor dryly.

"We'll see." The witch yanked a couple of hairs out of the Doctor's head.

"Ow!" The Doctor put a hand to where she'd extracted the hairs. "What was that?!"

"Souvenir," said the witch innocently.

"Well, give it back!" As the Doctor lunged for the witch, she flew out of the open window, just out of reach. "Well now that's just cheating," said the Doctor.

"Behold, Doctor. Men are nothing to Carrionites but puppets." The witch produced a small cornhusk doll and added the Doctor's hair to it.

"Now you might call that magic, but I'd call a DNA replication module!" the Doctor said.

"What good is your science now?" the witch asked. Then she stabbed the doll in the heart, and the Doctor, with a shout, fell the floor. Cackling, the witch flew away.

"Doctor!" Sam sprung from the shadows and rushed to his friend. "I've got you-hey wait, you're breathing!"

The Doctor opened one eye and smiled cheekily. "Two hearts."

"Oh!" Sam thwacked him in the chest exasperatedly.

"Ooh, do that again, a little to the right," the Doctor instructed.

Sam landed a blow right on the Doctor's right pectoral. "Ow! Other right!" the Doctor exclaimed.

"Sorry," said Sam, striking the other side and restarting the Doctor's heart.

"Good, good, now on the back-how do you people cope? Dah, lovely!" The Doctor sprang right up. "Badda boomba! Martha?" The Doctor ran over to the young woman who was lying unconscious on the floor across the room, leaving Sam alone. "Martha? You awake?"

"Ummmm," Martha moaned, slowly sitting up.

"There she is, she's a trooper," said the Doctor, helping her to her feet. "Well, Sam, don't just sit there, we've got a play to stop, come on!"

With a huff, Sam got up from the floor and followed after the two. He really hoped this wasn't becoming a habit.


"The course of true love never did run smooth." –Lysander, "A Midsummer Night's Dream", Act 1, Scene 2


As the other Carrionites flew from the sphere and spiraled about the theater, the trio stood there with Shakespeare as he doled out some magical rhymes of his own. "Close up this din of hateful dire decay, decomposition of witches' plot! You thieve my brain, consider me your toy! My doting Doctor tells me I am not! Foul Carrionites, cease your show! Between the points…" Shakespeare looked to the Doctor for reference.

"Seven-six-one-three-nine-oh!" the Doctor supplied.

"Seven-six-one-three-nine-oh!" Shakespeare repeated. "Banished like a tinker's cuss, I say to thee…"

"Uh…Expelliarmus!" Sam shouted.

"Expelliarmus!" Shakespeare cried.

"Expelliarmus! Good ol' J.K.!" the Doctor added gleefully.

The witches were sucked back into the sphere which they came from, along with all the pages of Shakespeare's new play.

"Love Labours' Won," said the Doctor. "There it goes."


Later, the next day, the Doctor, Martha, and Sam were preparing to leave, the Carrionite sphere in the Doctor's possession. "We've got to get Martha back to her home."

"You mean travel on through time and space?" Shakespeare said.

The Doctor, Martha, and Sam, all started. "You what?" the Doctor asked.

"You're from another world like the Carrionites and Martha and Sam are from the future," said Shakespeare, shrugging. "It's not hard to work out."

"You really are a genius," said Sam, laughing.

"That's incredible, you're incredible," the Doctor added in amazement.

"We are alike in many ways, Doctor. Martha…" The playwright turned to her. "Let me say goodbye to you with a new verse. A sonnet for my dark lady." He took her hand. "Shall I compare thee to a summer's day? Thou art more lovely, more temperate…"

Sam and the Doctor were silently cracking up behind his back. "Will!" someone shouted all of a sudden. One of the actors was running in. "You'll never believe it. She's here!"

"Who's here?" Sam said.

"She wants to see the performance! The whole town's been talking about it," the actor continued excitedly. "It's her, it's really her!"

"Who?" Sam repeated.

At that moment, a small party of people entered, including a woman dressed in a grand gown and jewels, a crown on top of her head.

The Doctor's mouth fell open. "Queen Elizabeth the first!" he exclaimed excitedly.

The Queen stared at him. "Doctor?!"

"What?"

"My sworn enemy!"

"What?!" the Doctor said.

"Oh, what did you do?" said Sam.

"Off with his head!" the Queen shrieked.

"What?!"

"Never mind what, just run!" The travelers booked it out of the theater.

"Oh, Sam," said Shakespeare, grabbing his arm. "There is something else I noticed about you that I did not mention in front of the Doctor. Let me put it in this way: Love is merely a madness: and, I tell you, deserves as as well a dark house and a whip, as madmen do: and the reason why they are not so punished and cured, is, that the lunacy is so ordinary, that the whippers are in love too."

"You should write that down," said Sam, with a hint of a smile. "Goodbye, Will. And thank you."

"Sam, come on!" the Doctor yelled as Sam raced down the street toward the TARDIS, the Queen's men in full pursuit. He just managed to jump in, the Doctor shutting the door to the box, before an arrow pierced the wood of the outside.

"What did you to that poor woman!" Sam exclaimed as the Doctor frantically set a course for the 21st century.

"I haven't done anything! Haven't even met her before today!" the Doctor yelped.

"First Victoria, now Elizabeth the first. You're setting quite the track record for yourself," Sam teased.

The Doctor gave him a surreptitious look. "Go thee, and fill another."

Sam just laughed.


"They are in the very wrath of love, and they will go together. Clubs cannot part them." –Rosalind, "As You Like It", Act 5, Scene 2

Chapter Text

"Just one trip. That's what I said," the Doctor said. "One trip in the TARDIS, and then home."

Sam secretly smiled.

"Although..." the Doctor continued, slowly. "I suppose we could stretch the definition."

"What?" said Sam and Martha together; Martha, excitedly, Sam, disapprovingly.

"Take one trip into the past, one trip into the future. How do you fancy that?" the Doctor asked Martha.

Martha grinned and shrugged. "No complaints from me."

"How about...a different planet?" the Doctor suggested.

Martha leapt up eagerly off of her stool. "Can we go to yours?" she whispered.

Sam looked at the Doctor and watched his face fall at the mention of it. The Doctor quickly brightened his voice again. "Ah, there's plenty of other places!" He started up the TARDIS.

"Er...what about New Earth? Didn't get to see that much of it last time," Sam quickly suggested.

Martha was relentless. "Come on, though. I mean, planet of the Time Lords. That's got to be worth a look. What's it like?"

Sam swallowed.

"Well, it's beautiful, yeah," said the Doctor brusquely.

"Is it like, you know...outer space cities, all spires and stuff?" Martha inquired, demonstrating with her hands, visualizing.

"I suppose it is," the Doctor muttered.

"New Earth is brilliant, huge skyscrapers, hover crafts, whole bit," Sam broke in, trying desperately to derail the conversation. His headache was returning with every word the other two were saying.

Martha wasn't listening. "Great big temples and cathedrals!"

"Yeah," sighed the Doctor.

"Lots of planets in the sky?" Martha said.

The Doctor looked off into the distance, as if he could see the planet's landscape. "The sky's a burnt orange...with the Citadel enclosed in a mighty glass dome, shining under the twin suns. Beyond that, the mountains go on forever. Slopes of deep red grass, capped with snow."

Sam sat down on the jumpseat, feeling weak in the knees. His head was pounding. One two three four. One two three four.

"Can we go there?" Martha beseeched.

The Doctor snapped out of his reverie. "Nah. Where's the fun for me?! I don't want to go home. Instead, this is much better. Year five billion and fifty-three, planet New Earth. Isn't that what you said, Sam? Second hope of mankind. Fifty thousand light years from your old world, and we're slap bang in the middle of New New York." The TARDIS came to a jittering halt, and the Doctor grabbed his coat from the rack and threw it on over his bony frame. "Although, technically it's the fifteenth New York from the original, so it's New New New New New New New New New New New New New New York. One of the most dazzling cities ever built."

The Doctor ushered Martha out the door, and was about to follow, when he noticed Sam was still sitting across the room. "Sam? Coming?"

"Mmwhat?" Sam looked up, shaking his head. "Oh. Yeah." He grabbed his hoodie and pulled it on over his head, the thick fabric ruffling his messy hair even more.

The Doctor looked at him sideways. "You're doing that thing again."

"What thing? There's no thing," said Sam.

"Yes there is, it's that lost-in-thought thing you do sometimes, are you alright?"

"I'm fine! I'm swell. Peachy keen, couldn't be better," Sam babbled, walking backward toward the door, his arms extended nonchalantly. "Don't worry your spiky little head about me, Doctor, let's just go check out that gorgeous New Earth scene. C'mon, slowpoke!"

He turned swiftly and stepped outside. He looked around confusedly. "Doctor?" he called back into the ship. "Are we in the right place?"

"Should be. Why? Oh..." said the Doctor, also coming outside. They were standing in a dingy, clamped alleyway. It was raining, and a nearby dumpster tainted the air with the stench of garbage.

Sam put his hood up, and Martha scrunched her shoulders in attempt to block the cold raindrops from the back of her neck. "Time lord version of 'dazzling'?" she asked.

"Ah, little rain never hurt anyone. Come on!" said the Doctor, leading the two of them forward.

They emerged in a slightly bigger sidestreet, equally grimy, with several bits of trash strewn about. Martha squealed as a large rat crawled past her foot. "Oh, that's nice," said Sam, wrinkling his nose as the rodent took refuge behind a wooden crate.

The Doctor walked over to a green plating with a screen in it. He scanned it with his sonic, and an image of a chipper blonde woman appeared, giving some kind of weather report. Then the image changed to the familiar sight of the futuristic city. "Oh, that's more like it!" proclaimed the Doctor. "That's the view we had last time. This must be the lower levels, down in the base of the tower. Some sort of under-city."

Martha eyed him dubiously. "You've brought me to the slums?"

"Much more interesting. It's all cocktails and glitter up there. This is the real city."

Martha shook her head. "You'd enjoy anything."

"That's him. That's absolutely hin," said Sam, laughing.

"Thank you," said the Doctor, grinning. "Ah, the rain's stopping! Better and better."

Suddenly, a cart to their left opened its hatch, and a vendor stuck his face out. "Oh!" he said, spotting them. "You should have said. How long you been there? Happy. You want Happy."

As he ducked down to fetch something, two more vendors across from him opened their windows. "Customers. Customers! We've got customers!" cried one.

"We're in business. Mother, open up the Mellow, and the Greed!" called the other into her shack.

"Happy, Happy, lovely happy Happy!" offered the first enthusiastically.

"Anger! Buy some Anger!" shouted the second.

"Get some Mellow, makes you feel all bendy and soft all day long-"

"Don't go to them, they'll rip you off! Do you want some Happy?"

"No, thanks," the Doctor said quickly.

"Are they selling drugs?" asked Martha, aghast.

"I think they're selling moods," said Sam, looking around at the stalls in mild fascination.

Martha snorted. "Same thing, isn't it?" Sam laughed, in spite of himself.

As more people began to join them in the streets, the vendors began advertising even more fervently. One woman, pale, swathed in black, with a shawl over her head, crept toward one of the vendors. "Come over here, yeah," said the cheerful seller as the gaunt woman approached. "And what can I get you, my love?"

"I want to buy Forget," said the woman flatly.

"I've got Forget, my darling. What strength? How much do you want forgetting?"

"It's my mother and father," said the woman, her tone bleak. "They went on the motorway."

The vendor clucked sympathetically. "Oh, that's a swine. Try this." The vendor handed her what looked like one of those lick-on tattoos you get when you're a kid. It was in the design of a green moon, reminding Sam of the hospital he and the Doctor had gone to the first time they came here. "Forget-43. That's two credits."

"Sorry, but hold on a minute," the Doctor interrupted as the woman paid for her mood. "What happened to your parents?"

"They drove off," said the woman, blinking at him with big, deadened eyes.

"Yeah, but they might drive back," said the Doctor.

"Everyone goes to the motorway in the end," said the mourning woman with conviction. "I've lost them."

"But they can't have gone far. You could find them. No. No, no, don't-" the Doctor said as the woman stuck the mood to her neck.

Immediately, the woman's persona livened up. "I'm sorry, what were you saying?" she asked the Doctor blankly.

"Your parents. Your mother and father. They're on the motorway," said Sam.

"Are they?" said the woman to him, slightly dazed. She smiled calmly. "That's nice. I'm sorry, I won't keep you." She nodded and walked away, oblivious to the world.

"So that's the human race, five billion years in the future," said Martha, her inner medic coming out. "Off their heads on chemicals."

"Yeah," said Sam. "It's a real shame-" His statement was cut off by an surprised bellow as a man with a gun suddenly grabbed him from behind. "Oi, gerroff me!" Sam shouted, trying to shake off his assailant.

"Sorry, I'm really, really sorry, we just need three, I'm sorry," said the man as a woman came up beside him, also armed. She pointed her gun at the Doctor and Martha.

"Let him go!" shouted the Doctor.

The man and woman continued to drag Sam away, Sam kicked and yelling, the Doctor shouting after them to let him go, the kidnappers continuing to apologize. Then they pulled Sam through a door, and the last thing he saw before it slammed shut was the Doctor's face, contorted with fright.

"Where are you taking me?" Sam demanded. But his captors did not answer, just kept pushing him through a dim hallways, cluttered with boxes and crates. Then they went through another door which lead to a similar area, only sunnier. There was a big black-and-silver vehicle parked there. "The Doctor's gonna find me, and then you'll be sorry! 'Cept for what I'm gonna do to ya first!" Sam threatened.

"Give him some Sleep," the man ordered the woman.

"Oh no! Don't you touch me with that stuff! Keep away!" Sam yelled as the woman pulled a patch out of her knapsack.

"It's just Sleep-14, don't fight it, baby, just sleep. That's it..."

Sam's eyes drooped as the patch made contact with his skin. He felt the urge to nod off spread through his system. His thought pattern was getting hazy, his eyelids felt heavier and heavier...with a large sigh, Sam fell unconscious.


Koschei opened his eyes...and smiled. He snuggled further into his lover's arms. "Morning," he mumbled.

"Morning," Theta said back, kissing the top of Koschei's head. "Sleep well?"

"Always do, next to you," Koschei yawned, kissing Theta back in return. "Love you."

"Love you too," said Theta sleepily, grinning at him. "And I always will."


Sam stirred and moved his head about. He was laying down on a cot or something, and could hear voices. He blinked his eyes open several times and looked around.

He was inside some kind of small carrier, a little ship or something. He found that he was laying on a foldout bed. He rubbed his neck, found the patch, and ripped it off. His brain immediately cleared up.

The two that had kidnapped him were sitting in pilot seats toward the bow of the shuttle, idly chatting. He looked to his right and spied the woman's gun sitting on a shelf next to him. He grabbed it and aimed it at the couple. The sudden noise made them both turn around.

"Take me back," ordered Sam. "Whoever you are, just take me back to my friends. Or I'll shoot."

The couple looked at each other.

"Please, don't make me do this. Just take me back to my people," Sam bartered.

"I'm sorry, but we can't," said the woman.

"I'll do it!" threatened Sam, brandishing the weapon.

"That's not a real gun," replied the woman.

Sam swallowed. "Yeah well, you would say that."

The woman laughed humorlessly. "Where do you get a real gun these days? I wouldn't even know how to fire!"

Sam bit his lip and put the gun down. He wouldn't have shot them. Not really. "Okay."

"Wh-what's your name?" asked the woman.

"Sam. Sam Tyler," said Sam, sitting up, feeling a bit woozy from the mood patch. The ceiling of the cabin was so low, his hair brushed up against the light fixtures. The Doctor wouldn't have even been able to stand up straight in here, he mused.

"Well, I'm Cheen, and this is Milo," said the woman, gesturing to her gentleman friend. "And I swear, we're really sorry. We just needed access to the fast lane. But I promise, as soon as we arrive, we'll drop you off and you can go back and find your friends."

Sam eyed them suspiciously. "Seriously?"

"I swear! Look." Cheen turned her head, pulled back her hair, and showed off the green moon on her neck. "Honesty patch."

"All the same...you kidnapped me!" Sam said. He sighed and looked out the front windshield. "Where are we, anyway?"

"We're on the motorway," said Milo.

The motorway? That's where that girl said her parents went. "What's that, then?" Sam asked, referring to the brownish-grey clouds outside. "Fog?"

Cheen laughed that unfunny laugh again. "That's the exhaust fumes."

"We're going out to Brooklyn," said Milo. "Everyone says the air's so much cleaner, and we couldn't stay in Pharmacy Town, because..." He smiled at Cheen and grasped her hand.

"Well, because of me. I'm pregnant," Cheen grinned. "We only discovered it last week. Scan says it's going to be a boy."

"Right. What do I do now, congratulate my kidnappers?" said Sam, shoving his hands into the pockets of his hoodie.

"We're really sorry," said Cheen. "But you see, if we're to get out of here on the fast lane, we have to have three adult passengers." She gestured to Sam. "Welcome aboard."

Sam growled and dragged his hands through his scruffy hair frustratedly.

"Look, this'll be as fast as we can," said Milo apologetically. "We'll take the motorway to the Brooklyn flyover, and then after that it's going to take awhile, because then there's no fast lane, just ordinary roads, but at least it's direct."

"It's only ten miles," added Cheen.

"How long is it going to take?" Sam asked.

"About...six years," said Cheen.

"What?!" spat Sam.

"Be just in time for him to start school," nodded Cheen, patting her stomach.

"No, sorry, hold on," said Sam. "Six years? Ten miles in six years? How come?"

"Well, it's the traffic. Moves so seldomly that you barely get anywhere in a long period of time," explained Milo. He looked at Sam inquisitively. "You must be from up above. How did you not know?"

"Though you wouldn't know he was from the upper city, dressed like that," added Cheen, nodding to the hoodie. "No offense."

Sam rolled his eyes and pulled off his hoodie. He wasn't dressed that much better than his captors: a flannel button up over his old Driveshaft t-shirt, Nike trainers, and blue jeans. Then again, his clothes looked newer and were in better condition than the raggedy threads Cheen and Milo were wearing. Sam took off his flannel and laid it with the hoodie, feeling warm in the small cabin.

"Oh, Driveshaft!" said Milo, reading his t-shirt. "That sounds familiar."

"Oh, I think they wrote that one song. You know, the really old one from the 1990's?" Cheen began singing. "You all everybody...you all everybody."

Milo joined in. "Actin' like them stupid people, wearin' expensive clothes. That shirt must be ancient. Where'd you get it?"

"Er...bootlegger," Sam lied. In spite of himself, he was smiling at hearing his old band's only popular song. He remembered the Doctor, way back when he'd barely known him, when he was still Northern with big ears, telling him that that song would live on for centuries. Guess he wasn't kidding.

Thinking of the Doctor made him sad. There had to be a way for the Doctor to find him. If he knew that man, he figured the Doctor wouldn't rest till he'd found him.

Sam walked over to a window on the side and put a hand up to the tarnished glass. He squinted through the exhaust and made out little pinpoints of light-headlights, he imagined. Could the Doctor be in one of them right now, looking for him?

"Please," Sam whispered. "Please come and find me."


Finally, after the Doctor had beaten the Macra, Sam and all the motorists were able to escape into the great city above. "Been awhile since I've seen you, Sam Tyler," said the Doctor as Sam came running into the Senate. They went for a hug, then remembered their conversation from before when they'd stayed with Shakespeare. Sam sheepishly put out his hand, and the Doctor shook it, smiling stiffly.

"Hi, Sam," said Martha. "Good to see you."

"Thanks for keeping him safe," chuckled Sam.

"Doctor!" called a voice from the other side of the room.

Sam looked around his companions and spotted a cat-human, one of the Sisters of Plentitude from the New New York Hospital, kneeling in front of a large brown mass. "Novice Hame?" Sam said with surprise. He'd thought he'd seen her get arrested with the rest of the Sisters.

The cat nodded. "Mister Tyler. He has been waiting for you. Both of you."

As the Doctor joined him, Sam turned his head to the great mass. It was a giant face, with lines and cracks in its skin, long tendrils extending from its side and large, sad yellow eyes.

"The Face of Boe?" said Sam in wonderment. The Doctor nodded. "What's he doing here?" Sam asked.

"He's the one that saved you. Not me."

"But..." Sam knelt down beside Novice Hame. "He's...out. Of his glass, I mean. Isn't that...I mean...won't he..." Sam couldn't bear to say it.

"My lord gave his life to save the city," said Hame, wiping a tear away with her paw. "And now, he is dying."

"No, don't say that," said the Doctor. "Not old Boe. Plenty of life left."

It's good to breathe the air once more. Sam heard the Face's words in his head.

The Doctor looked at the great face. "Legend says the Face of Boe has lived for billions of years. Isn't that right? And you're not about to give up now."

Everything has its time. You know that, old friend, better than most.

"The legend says more," said Hame.

"Don't. There's no need for that," said the Doctor.

"It says that the Face of Boe will speak his final secret to a traveler," insisted Hame, looking at the Doctor meaningfully.

"Yeah, but not yet. Who needs secrets, eh?" said the Doctor.

I have seen so much...perhaps too much. I am the last of my kind, as you are the last of yours, Doctor.

"That's why we have to survive," said the Doctor. "Both of us. Don't go."

I must. But know this, Time Lord...

Sam breathed in shakily.

You...are not...alone.

The Doctor's eyebrows lifted. He stared intently at the Face of Boe.

Sam retreated backward, away from the Face, as if pushed by his words. His stomach was churning. His blood felt weak, his nerves alive and quivering. His heart was beating fast, and in his mind was the drums, the never-ending drum beat, so loud it hurt. ONE TWO THREE FOUR. ONE TWO THREE FOUR. ONE TWO THREE FOUR.

The Face of Boe breathed raggedly in and out several more times. Then his eyes closed, and he spoke no more.


They made their way back to Pharmacy Town, where they'd left their TARDIS. Sam had remained silent since the Face of Boe's message. The Doctor, Martha, and Sam looked around at all the boarded up vendor stations, bustling with business only a few hours ago. "All closed down," said the Doctor.

"Happy?" Martha asked.

"Happy happy," the Doctor replied. "New New York can start again. And they've got Novice Hame. Just what every city needs. Cats in charge. Come on, time we were off."

"But what did he mean, the Face of Boe?" Martha asked, stopping the Doctor. "'You're not alone.'"

"I don't know," said the Doctor, shaking his head.

"You've got me. And Sam," said Martha, gesturing to their silent partner. "Is that what he meant?"

The Doctor smiled sadly. "I don't think so. Sorry."

"Then what?" Martha asked.

"Doesn't matter," said the Doctor shortly, turning his back and walking away. "Back to the TARDIS, off we go."

Sam wordlessly followed him, but Martha grabbed a folding chair from in front of a stand and sat down, arms and legs crossed.

The Doctor looked at her quizzically. "Alright, are you staying?"

"Til you talk to me properly, yes," said Martha sternly. "He said 'last of your kind'. What does that mean?"

"It really doesn't matter," said the Doctor dismissively.

Sam stared at him. He knew the truth.

"You don't talk, you never say! Why not?" Martha demanded.

The Doctor and Martha had a long stare off, with Sam looking back and forth between them. Finally, the Doctor sighed, grabbed another chair and sat across from her.

"I lied to you," the Doctor began. "Because I liked it. I could pretend. Just for a bit, I could imagine they were still alive, underneath a burnt orange sky. I'm not just a Time Lord. I'm the last of the Time Lords. The Face of Boe was wrong. There's no one else."

"What happened?" Martha asked.

The Doctor sighed again, old and tired. Sam walked around behind Martha and listened to the Doctor.

"There was a war. A Time War. The last Great Time War. My people fought a race called the Daleks, for the sake of all creation. And they lost. They lost, everyone lost. They're all gone now. My family, my friends, even that sky. Oh, you should have seen it, that old planet. The second sun would rise in the south, and the mountains would shine. The leaves on the trees were silver, and when they caught the light every morning, it looked like a forest on fire. When the autumn came, the breeze would blow through the branches like a song..."

As the Doctor spoke, Sam let himself be carried away by his words, which evoked imagery in his mind's eye. Watching the double suns rise and set, lying in the red grass, staring into the distance at the snow capped Mount Perdition. Of two young men, one small and dark-haired, the other gangly with blonde curls, holding each other and watching the stars of the great constellation of Kasterborous rotate overhead, dreaming of what the universe held beyond them.

Sam didn't even notice that the Doctor had finished the story, until he realized he and Martha were staring at him, concerned. "Sam?" the Doctor said softly.

"What?" Sam said, in a daze.

"You're crying."

"I am?" Sam reached up and swiped the sleeve of his hoodie across his cheek. He hadn't even felt himself doing it. "Sorry," he gasped, sniffing.

The Doctor stood up, gently touched his elbow, and said, "Let's go home."

Sam nodded. He knew the Doctor meant the TARDIS, but all of a sudden, for some reason, he felt like saying, home is gone.

Chapter Text

When the hell was this insufferable Martha Jones going to leave? That's what Sam was wondering to himself. It wasn't like he was jealous of the attention the Doctor was giving her or anything. He just didn't like her was all. She was...well, she...she was...okay, the truth was, the young medical student was perfectly nice, and bright. It's just that she was...well, she was pretty and vivacious. And had a thing for the Doctor. But that wasn't jealousy...right?

Sam nervously bit one of his fingernails.

The TARDIS wheezed and thumped as it landed at its next destination. The Doctor and Martha, laughing giddily, clambered out of the ship, Sam trudging after them. He hoped this wasn't getting to be a habit.

"Where are we?" Martha asked, looking around. They had appeared on some sort of sea front. Sam estimated it was an island, for he spied a greater urban coast across the water. Under their feet was well manicured grass, and seagulls were crying overhead.

"Ah, smell that Atlantic breeze!" The Doctor exclaimed excitedly. "Nice and cold, lovely."

"Doctor, come on," laughed Sam, glad to have his hoodie to guard him against the biting breeze. "Tell us, where are we?"

The Doctor grinned at him. "Sam, Martha...have you met my friend?" He turned and looked up.

Sam then realized that even though it was a sunny day, they were in shadow. Behind them and the TARDIS, there was a stone wall, leading up to a higher level, then perched on that was a stone platform. And perched on that...

"No way," gasped Sam.

"Is that-?" choked Martha.

A mint green, gargantuan stature of a lady in a toga, wearing a crown on her head, clutching a book and raising a torch to the sky, towered over them. "Oh my God! That's the Statue of Liberty!" Martha exclaimed.

"I did promise you a trip to New York, as I recall. Not New New York, the proper one, the original. Remember, Sam?" said the Doctor.

Sam bumped gently against his arm, smiling. "You remembered that?"

"Course," said the Doctor. He looked up at the grand Lady. "Gateway to the New World. 'Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses, yearning to breathe free'."

"That's so brilliant," sighed Martha. "I've wanted to go to New York. I mean, the real one, not the new new new-new-new one."

"Well, there's the genuine article," said the Doctor, pointing out to the city on the mainland. "So good, they named it twice. Mind you, it was New Amsterdam originally. Harder to say twice. Now wonder it didn't catch on. New Amsterdam, New Amsterdam."

"Look, the Empire State Building's not even finished yet," said Martha, pointing. "We must be in the past."

"Work in progress," the Doctor commented. "Still got a couple floors to go."

"Hmm," said Sam. "I wonder what year it is."

"Well, if I know my history, the construction on the Empire State makes the date somewhere around-"

"November 1st, 1930," Martha finished for the Doctor, consulting a newspaper abandoned on a park bench.

The Doctor grinned at her. "You're getting good at this."

I'm not jealous, Sam thought bitterly.

"Eighty years ago," said Martha in amazement. "It's funny, because you see all those old newsreels all in black and white like it's so far away, but here we are. It's real. It's now." She looked at the Doctor and Sam. "Come on then, you two. Where do you want to go first?"

The Doctor was reading a headline intently.

"Doctor?" said Sam. "What is it?"

The Doctor looked up at him. Then he showed the paper to his companions. "I think our detour just got longer."

The banner read "HOOVERVILLE MYSTERY DEEPENS".


The trio traveled to a slum in the middle of Central Park, where they met a boy named Frank, and a very wise African-American man named Solomon. A man named "Mr. Diagoras" came to the Hooverville, vying for employees, offering a dollar for going down in the sewer to clean up a collapsed tunnel. The five of them volunteered. The Doctor was curious.

After wandering a mile, there was no sign of a collapse. But along the way, they found a phosphorescent, viscous green blob of something. It definitely wasn't terrestrial.

Suddenly, the whole group heard a sharp squealing. Cowering in a corner, they found a mutated creature, seemingly half man, half pig. Then they were joined by a whole gang of the pigmen, who instigated pursuit. The Doctor, Sam, Martha, and Solomon made it out. But poor Frank was dragged down, never to be seen again.

And suddenly, they were face to face with a blonde woman with a pistol. "Now tell me, you schmucks," she said with a harsh Jersey accent, cocking the gun at them menacingly. "What have you done with Laszlo?"


Tallulah, the woman's name was, turned out to be a performer. "Laszlo" was her boyfriend, gone missing some time ago. The disappearances from Hooverville, the green blob, the pigmen, the mysterious Mister Diagoras, and now this. Things were getting weirder by the minute, in Sam's opinion.

Sam watched as the Doctor analyzed the blob thing with his homemade gizmo. "Fundamental DNA type four six seven dash nine eight nine," the Doctor mumbled to himself. "Nine eight nine. Hold on, that means planet of origin..." The Doctor's brown eyes widened behind his spectacles, which he took off in horror. "Skaro," he gasped.

Skaro. The name faintly registered with Sam.

It was on the planet Skaro that I, the Master, was put on trial. I listened calmly as my list of evil was read and sentence passed. Then I made my last, and to some, somewhat curious, request. I demanded that my arch rival, the Doctor, the Time Lord that had known me longest in history apart from my own relations, should take my remains back to our home planet, Gallifrey.

"The planet of the Daleks?" Sam asked.

The Doctor looked at him in surprise. "Yes. How did you know that?"

"Uh...Canary Wharf. The Daleks that came out of the Void Ship. One of them said he was from the Cult of Skaro. I drew my own conclusions," said Sam. "So I'm right? This is the Daleks?"

The Doctor rubbed his temples. "It just can't be. The legion we saw on Satellite Five were all wiped out by you, and the ones at Canary Wharf were all sucked back into the Void."

But when the two of them and Tallulah saw one of them back down in the sewers, they knew it was true. "They survived," the Doctor said through gritted teeth. He stared after the pepper pot with hatred. "They always survive while I lose everything."

Sam tentatively put his hand on the Doctor's shoulder. "I'm sorry, Doctor."

The Doctor reached up and covered Sam's hand with his own, saying nothing.

In the sewers, the Doctor, Sam, and Tallulah encountered another pigman, but he was different than the others. He'd been physically transformed like the others, but his higher brain functions were still working. It turned out to be Tallulah's lover, Laszlo.

Laszlo told them of the Daleks' plot. They'd been the ones who'd been taking people. The ones of low intelligence, like Laz, were converted into pig slaves. The ones of high intelligence, like Martha, who'd at some point been captured due to chasing Laz, were to be saved, for the "final experiment".

The Doctor and Sam snuck in line with Martha, Frank (who was amazingly still alive), and the rest of the high intelligence captives, and were led to a laboratory. In the middle of the room, there was a black Dalek, surrounded by average bronze ones. The black one was steaming and shaking. "DALEK SEC IS IN THE FINAL STAGE OF EVOLUTION!" announced one of the Daleks.

"SCAN HIM. PREPARE FOR BIRTH."

"Evolution?" the Doctor muttered.

"Birth?" Sam added, equally confused.

"What's wrong with old Charlie boy over there?" Martha asked, staring at the Black Dalek.

"Ask them," the Doctor ordered.

"What, me?" Martha squeaked. "Don't be daft."

"Sam and I don't exactly want to get noticed," the Doctor reasoned. "They know us. Ask them what's going on."

Gulping, Martha stepped forward. "Daleks!" she exclaimed loudly. "I demand to be told. What is this...Final Experiment? Report!"

One of the gold Daleks rolled up to her. "YOU WILL BEAR WITNESS," it told her.

"To what?" Martha asked.

"THIS IS THE DAWN OF A NEW AGE."

"What does that mean?" Martha questioned. Sam had to admit, even though the young medical student was shaking, she was standing her ground quite well.

"WE ARE THE ONLY FOUR DALEKS IN EXISTENCE. SO THE SPECIES MUST EVOLVE A LIFE OUTSIDE THE SHELL. THE CHILDREN OF SKARO MUST WALK AGAIN."

"Daleks don't walk," Sam murmured. "What do they mean?"

The Doctor stared at Sec worryingly. "I think we're about to find out."

Sec's shell stopped smoking. The blue light of its eye stalk went dark. Its casing opened.

All the humans gasped.

A curled up humanoid came crawling out of the shell, slowly straightening. It was wearing a black pinstripe suit, just like Mr. Diagoras. But its skin...its skull...its hands...

Its skin was brownish-pinkish, with pronounced wrinkles and veins. The head had been mutated into a brain, bursting from the skin. Dalek tentacles extended twitching from the thing's jawline. There was one, singular embedded eye.

"What is it?" Martha whispered, aghast.

The creature stood erect, looking around the room. "I...am...a human Dalek. I...am your future."

Sam, Martha, and Frank stared at the new creation in horror. The Doctor ducked out of sight and took shelter behind some extraneous apparatuses on the side. "These...humans," gasped the new Sec, still settling into its own skin, "will become like me. Prepare them for hybridization!" he ordered his Dalek underlings.

A few slaves stepped forward and grabbed Sam and Martha by their arms. "Leave me alone! Don't you dare!" Martha squealed.

"Get your filthy...hooves off of me!" Sam shouted.

Suddenly, "Happy Days Are Here Again" started playing in the room. The Daleks wheeled around confusedly. "What is that sound?!" Sec demanded.

The Doctor poked his spiky head out from behind a machine, carrying a small transistor radio. He switched it off. "Ah, well, now, that would be me," the Doctor said, coming out from hiding. "Hello. Surprise! Boo. Et cetera."

"Doctor," hissed Sec scathingly.

"THE ENEMY OF THE DALEKS!" proclaimed a bronze pepper pot.

"EXTERMINATE!" cried another.

"Wait!" exclaimed Sec, holding up his new deformed hands.

The Daleks stilled, waiting for orders.

"Well, then, a new form of Dalek, fascinating. And very clever," chided the Doctor, striding forward to get a better look at Sec.

"The Cult of Skaro escaped your slaughter," Sec spat at the Time Lord.

"How did you end up in 1930?" asked Sam, pushing forward.

The mutant looked at him. "This human of yours does not adhere to the standard of your typical companion. This one is brazen."

"That's me," said Sam. "Sam 'Bloody Brazen' Tyler, the Big Bad Wolf. And I asked you a question. How did you get here?"

"Emergency temporal shift," answered Sec.

The Doctor laughed. "That must've roasted up your power cells, yeah?" He scratched his ear and strode around in a circle, looking each pepper pot in the eyestalk. "Time was...four Daleks could have conquered the world. But instead you're skulking away...hidden in the dark...experimenting. All of which results..." The Time Lord looked back at Sec. "In you."

"I am Dalek, in human form!" proclaimed Sec.

"And what does that feel like?" asked Sam, crossing his arms. "Tell me, Dalek Sec. Because I once met a Dalek like you. A Dalek that absorbed a human's DNA. Tell me what you're thinking right now."

"I feel...humanity," gasped Sec, turning away, gripping its old casing for support.

"Good. That's good," said the Doctor.

"I...feel...everything we wanted from mankind," the human Dalek continued. "Which is...ambition...hatred...aggression...and war. Such a genius for war!"

"No, that's not what humanity is," said Sam.

"I think it is," disagreed Sec, newly inspired. "At heart, this species is so very...Dalek."

"All right, so what have you achieved then, with this Final Experiment, eh?" said the Doctor, no longer calm. "Nothing! Because I can show you what you're missing...with this thing." He patted his little music box fondly. "A simple little radio."

"WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF THAT DEVICE?" blared one of the bronze Dalek underlings.

"Well, exactly, it plays music, what's the point of that?" the Doctor asked, in teaching mode. "Oh, with music...you can dance to it, sing with it...fall in love to it."

Sam remembered dancing with the Doctor to Glenn Miller during the London Blitz. He remembered tripping and falling into the Doctor's arms, feeling his heart in his throat and his stomach do a somersault. He hoped he wasn't blushing.

"Unless you're a Dalek of course," the Doctor continued. "Then it's all just noise."

The Doctor aimed his sonic at the radio, which suddenly emitted a ear-splittingly high frequency. Sec and the pigmen covered their ears instinctively; the Daleks just screamed.

"Run!" the Doctor cried.


The Doctor, Sam, Martha, Frank, and the rest of the hostages managed to make it out of the sewers and back into the Hooverville in the park. They found Soloman and told him the whole story. The Doctor urged Soloman to get everyone away from the Hooverville when there was an attack. The pigmen showed up and started snatching people left and right. The vagrants equipped themselves with guns, but they seemed to be doing no good.

"If we can just hold them off till morning!" Sam shouted, aiming at one and missing.

They all heard a loud cycling sound. "Oh, Sam, those are just the foot soldiers," said the Doctor, looking up at the sky.

Daleks had appeared. They began shooting at the camp and blowing up tents. The people were screaming. "THE HUMANS WILL SURRENDER!" ordered one Dalek.

"Leave them alone, they've done nothing to you!" the Doctor yelled.

Suddenly, Soloman stepped forward, nervously clenching his gun. "No, Soloman, stay back!" the Doctor said.

"I'm told that I'm addressing the Daleks, is that right? From what I hear, you're outcasts too," the wise man said.

"Soloman, don't," the Doctor urged.

"Doctor, this is my township, you will respect my authority!" Soloman commanded. Then he added in a more intimate tone, "Just let me try." Then he turned back to the Daleks hovering overhead. "Daleks...ain't we the same? Underneath, ain't we all kin?" He set his weapon on the ground as a show of good faith. "Because, you see, I've just discovered, this past day...that God's universe is a thousand times the size I thought it was! And that scares me. Oh yeah! Terrifies me! Right down to the bone! But surely, it's got to give me hope. Hope that...maybe together...we can make a better tomorrow. So, I beg you, now...if you have any compassion in your hearts...then you'll meet with us, and stop this fight!"

The Daleks looked at each other. Soloman licked his lips nervously. "Well?" he asked. "What do you say?"

"Oh, Sol," sighed Sam. "You're brilliant. You were doing so well. Until you got to 'hearts'."

Soloman looked at him. "What's wrong with that?"

"DALEKS HAVE NO HEARTS. EXTERMINATE!" And then, they killed him.

Soloman fell to the ground. "Soloman!" exclaimed Frank, rushing to his body, tears streaming from his eyes.

"They just shot him on the spot!" Martha said, trembling.

"That's Daleks for you," said Sam, quietly angry, going against his natural instinct and putting his arms around her shoulders comfortingly as she cried in fear.

"Daleks," the Doctor whispered under his breath in rage. "Alright, so it's my turn!" he screamed at the monsters, holding out his arms, welcoming their shots. "Then kill me! Kill me if it'll stop you attacking these people!"

"Doctor, stop it!" Sam shouted.

"I WILL BE THE DESTROYER OF OUR GREATEST ENEMY!" the head Dalek exclaimed.

"Then do it! Do it! Just do it! Do it!" the Doctor yelled, pounding on his chest.

"EXTERMINA-"

But something stopped it. "I DO NOT UNDERSTAND," protested the Dalek to some outside party. "IT IS THE DOCTOR...THE URGE TO KILL...IS TOO STRONG!...I...OBEY."

The Daleks seemed to be surrendering. "What's going on?" the Doctor demanded.

"YOU WILL FOLLOW," ordered the Dalek.

"No!" Martha burst away from Sam and rushed to the Doctor's side. Sam followed. "You can't go," she said tearfully.

"She's right. They want you for something and you can't let them take it!" Sam said, grabbing the Doctor's shoulders, trying to make the Time Lord see sense.

"I've got to go," said the Doctor, staring into his eyes. "The Daleks just changed their minds. Daleks never change their minds."

"And neither am I. I am not letting you walk straight into danger. They'll kill you, Doctor, and I can't let them do that!" exclaimed Sam, hoping his voice wasn't breaking as much as he thought it was.

The Doctor looked at him sadly, then did something unexpected. He leaned forward and softly kissed Sam's cheek.

Sam was frozen, at a loss for words. The Doctor gently removed Sam's hands from his shoulders. "I'm sorry," he whispered. Then he turned to the Dalek. "One condition!" he roared. "You spare the lives of everyone here! Do you hear me?!"

"HUMANS WILL BE SPARED," said the Dalek. "DOCTOR-FOLLOW."

"I'm coming with you," said Sam, grabbing the Time Lord's hand.

"NO ONE ELSE. NO ONE BUT THE DOCTOR."

"I'm not letting him out of my sight, don't you understand?" shouted Sam angrily.

"Sam, please," breathed the Doctor. "Stay here. Look out for Martha and the others. Please. For me."

Sam stared him down. Then, biting his lip, he nodded, grudgingly.

"Thank you," said the Doctor. "I promise you, Sam Tyler: I will find my way back to you."

"DOCTOR. FOLLOW!"

"I'm coming, I'm coming!" the Doctor snapped, turning away and heading down the hill after the Daleks. Sam stayed rooted in place, watching the billowy tails of his coat blow in the night air as he walked away. Then he pulled something out of his pocket, when the Doctor had slipped something into it, right as he'd kissed him on the cheek.

It was his psychic paper.


"Just a scratch," said Martha, patching up one of the Hooverville citizens' wrist. "You'll be fine. Try to keep it clean."

"I got some more water boiling," said Tallulah, coming into the tent as the patient was going out.

Sam was staring at the psychic paper pensively. "What's that?" the showgirl asked.

"One of the Doctor's tricks. Get you into places and things," Sam replied. "He gave it to me. I don't know why."

"Well...to get you into somewhere, right?" Tallulah guessed.

"Yeah, but where?" Sam sighed. "This is hopeless. Bloody Time Lords and their bloody riddles."

"Hey, wait," said Martha suddenly. "Down in the sewers, I heard the Daleks mention this energy converter."

"What does that mean?" Tallulah asked.

"I don't know," said Martha, crestfallen. "Maybe like a lightning conductor, or...Dalekanium!"

"Dalekanium?!" Sam repeated dubiously.

"They said the Dalekanium is in place!" Martha said excitedly.

"Where, Martha?" said Sam, standing up. "Where's the Dalekanium in place?"

"Frank might know," Martha replied, brainstorming.

"Well then why are we sitting around here? Let's go!" Sam exclaimed. The three of them rushed out of the tent to find Frank. "We've got a city to save!"


"I've always wanted to go to the Empire State Building," said Martha on the elevator, after Frank had clued them in to the grand tower. "Never quite imagined it like this though."

"How'd we get in, anyway?" Tallulah asked.

"Show'd them this," said Sam, handing her the Doctor's wallet.

Tallulah looked at the psychic paper. "Hmm. 'Frank O'Malley, Architect. Martha Jones, Supervisor. Tallulah Rogers, Engineer-ooh, lookit that, I'm an engineer!-and Sam Tyler, Head Janitor'."

"Oh, what?! Why am I the janitor?!" Sam looked at the paper, but as usual, it was blank to him. "Bollocks," he grumbled under his breath.

"So where are we going?" Frank asked.

"Top floor," said Sam, crossing his arms and leaning against the wall, looking up at the ceiling. "That's where they're still building. That's where the Dalekanium will be. If the whole tower's a conductor, the Dalekanium will be mounted to the antenna on the roof, I'll just bet."

When they arrived on the top story, Tallulah said, as they emerged from the elevator, "Look at this place!" She crossed to the window and stared at the wide view. "Top of the world."

"Just about," said Sam, joining her. He too, looked out over the city. "Wish we could've done a bit more sightseeing and a little less world saving. This place is brilliant."

"Sam," called Martha. "Over here. Blueprints."

"Hey, look at the date," Frank pointed out, as Sam came over to investigate. "These designs were issued today. They must've been changed last minute."

"So the Daleks changed something," said Sam.

"Could be," nodded Frank.

Martha flipped the next page, the next most recent designs. "The change'll be on the top sheet. So we need to compare these two pages."

"New York City," sighed Tallulah dreamily. "If aliens had to come to Earth...oh, no wonder they came here."

They poured over the designs. "Gotcha!" Martha exclaimed. "Look. There, on the mast. Those little lines? They're new. They've added something, see?"

"Added what?" Frank asked.

Sam and Martha looked at each and grinned. "Dalekanium!"

Suddenly, the elevator dinged. "Uh oh," said Sam. "Company. Martha, Tallulah, hide. Frank and I'll hold 'em off."

The door slid open...it was the Doctor and Lazslo! "Oh thank God!" Sam rushed at the skinny Time Lord and hugged him tightly.

"I never thought I'd see you again," Tallulah cried happily as she jumped into the arms of the pigman.

"No stopping me," Lazslo laughed weakly.

"Are you alright?" Sam was asking the Doctor.

"All the better now." The Doctor smiled down at him. It was a smile that made Sam's heart beat very hard.

"Doctor!" Martha ran to them and eagerly hugged him. "We've worked it out! Me and Sam, and Frank and Tallulah too. We know what they've done. There's Dalekanium on the mast! And it's good to see you, by the way."

"Oh, come here, you clever ones." The Doctor went to hug his companions again, but then there was another ding from the elevator. "Oh no no no no no!" The Doctor ran over to the lift control and tried to sonic it. "Never waste time with a hug!-Argh! Deadlock seal! I can't stop it."

"Where's it going, Doctor?" Sam asked.

"Right down to the Daleks," answered the Doctor. "And they're not going to leave us alone up here. What's the time?"

Frank checked his watch. "Eleven fifteen."

"Six minutes to go," muttered the Doctor. "We've got to remove the Dalekanium before the gamma radiation hits."

"Gamma radiation? What the heck is that?" Tallulah asked.

So then the Doctor told them about the Daleks' plot. The pepper pots had captured a bunch of humans and basically sucked the souls out of them. Dalek Sec wanted to convert them into human Daleks, but his underlings had rebelled against him, and now the people were going to be full on Daleks. There was a solar flare coming, and the needle on the top of the Empire State was going to act as a conductor of energy into the bodies. The Dalekanium would help the conversion along.

The Doctor was going to climb up to the top and remove the Dalekanium. "You never quit, do you?" Sam said. "Do you want to get yourself killed?!"

"Sam, the last thing I'm afraid of is heights. Although, I did once regenerate from falling off of a radio tower-"

Sam's stomach did a flip flop. That had been one of his visions!

"-but never mind that. Sam, I need you and Martha down here on the ground, working together. And I'm sorry, but you're going to have to fight."

Sam looked around at his compatriots: a wet-behind-the-ears medical student, a showgirl in a skimpy angel costume and robe, an Oklahoma farmboy, and a mutant pig man. He sighed. "Well...Avengers, assemble."


The Doctor climbed to the roof to dispose of the Dalekanium. Meanwhile, Sam, Martha, Frank Tallulah, and Lazslo armed themselves with random tools the workmen had left lying around.

Frank looked discerningly at the wooden sledgehammer in his hands. "I knew I should've brought that gun with me."

"The lift's coming!" Martha exclaimed.

"Tallulah, stay back. You too, Martha," said Lazslo, trying to shield the womenfolk with his arms. "If they send pig slaves, they're trained to kill."

"The Doctor needs me to fight, I'm not going anywhere!" Martha exclaimed.

"They're savages," said Laz. "I should know. They're trained to slit your throat with their bare teeth." Suddenly, he slumped over weakly, dropping his hammer.

"Laszlo?" squeaked Tallulah, worryingly, crouched down next to him. "What is it?"

"No, it's nothing," panted Laszlo, leaning against a post for support. "I'm fine. Just leave me."

Tallulah put her hand to his forehead. "Oh, honey, you're burning up. What's wrong with you? Tell me."

"Great. One man down, we ain't even started yet," groaned Frank pessimistically.

"It's not looking good, fellas," said Martha uneasily, hers, Frank's, and Sam's eyes glued to the elevator counter.

"Nope," agreed Frank.

"We're going to get slaughtered!"

"Oi! Can we save the negativity until after we've attacked a legion of mutants?!" Sam shouted at them.

"Sorry," said Martha meekly.

Suddenly, thunder crashed outside. Sam's head whipped around to look at the open window, at the wicked storm brewing outside. "Wait a minute! That's it!"

"What's it?" Martha asked. She looked out the window too. "Oh!"

"What?!" Frank exclaimed.

"Lightning!" the time travelers said together, inspired.

"So?"

"So..." Sam ran over and grabbed a coil of wire. "There's a hell of a storm out there. This building's gonna get struck with a bolt no matter if there's Dalekanium clipped to it or not. It's what it was designed for."

"But what if," Martha added, "we rerouted the energy to the elevator?"

"Well, then...the pig slaves would be electrocuted!" Frank said, getting it. "Oh!"

"Exactly!" Sam grinned at Martha. "I like the way you think, Jones."

"Likewise, Tyler," Martha replied. "Now...let's do this!"


Martha, Sam, and Frank set up metal pipes leading to the outside, where they would attract the lightning and conduct it to the elevator. "Okay! Everybody get away from the pipes, and don't touch anything metal!" Sam yelled, running across the room and crouching on the floor.

Come on, Doctor, Sam added mentally, looking up at the ceiling.

Ding.

At the exact moment the lift doors opened, white hot jagged hairlines of pure electricity trailed down the pipes, instantly killing the pigmen ambling out of the elevator. The gang closed their eyes, cover their head, and crouched down.

A minute or so later, Sam looked up. "Guys. Look."

Four or five pigmen were all lying in the elevator, dead.

Frank laughed. "Y'all did it!"

"We killed them," said Martha, shocked.

"Well what did you think was going to happen?" Sam asked her gently, putting a hand on her shoulder.

"They used to be like Laszlo. They were people."

Sam shook his head. "Believe me, Martha-they were dead long before the lightning came."

"You didn't kill them, Martha," said Laszlo, struggling to his feet. "The Daleks did. Long ago."

"You alright?" Sam asked him.

Laszlo shrugged wordlessly.

Sam looked up at the ceiling. "The Doctor...he never came down."

Martha touched his hand. Sam looked at her in surprise. "I'm sure he's alright," said the young woman.

Sam tried to smile. "Heh. Yeah. Believe me, he's been through worse...still." Sam looked upward again. "I'm gonna go up there."

"Me too," said Martha, following him to the ladder up to the roof.

"No, Martha, stay. It's still stormy, it's too dangerous. Look, Laz is weak. Stay here. Take care of him. Be a doctor." Sam smiled at her a little.

Martha nodded and walked back to the group. Sam was about to climb up, when suddenly he stepped on something. He looked under his foot.

It was the Doctor's screwdriver. "Oh no," Sam gasped, snatching it up and hoisting himself up the wooden rungs.

The Doctor was lying on the ground near the antenna. His eyes were closed and he was very still.

"Doctor!" Sam ran to him, getting on the ground beside him. He laid his head on the Time Lord's chest. His hearts were still beating. Oh, thank God. "Doctor, please, wake up." Sam gently shook his shoulder. "Please, Doctor, please!"

The Doctor stirred sluggishly. "Oh, my head," he groaned, blinking open his big brown eyes. He looked up at his companion. "Sam! My old friend!"

"Idiot," said Sam, smacking the Doctor in the chest. "Look, I found your sonic screwdriver! And here's your psychic paper. Oh, buck up, mate, come on, I know you've been through worse than this."

"Are we alive?" the Doctor asked.

Sam laughed. "Why wouldn't we be?"

"Cause there's heaven in your eyes." The Doctor laughed weakly.

"Eh-heh. Yeah," said Sam, backing away. He could feel his cheeks heating up. "I think that lightning struck your brain."

"Yeah?" the Doctor asked him, raising an eyebrow.

"Well..." Sam pretended to examine him. "Your hair does look spikier than usual."

"Oh, he's Mister Funny, now, isn't he? So funny." The Doctor rolled his eyes.

"Excuse me, Skinnybones, I'm terribly amusing," said Sam. He was leaning directly over the Doctor.

The Doctor snorted. "So you say." They laughed together momentarily. Then they looked into each other's eyes. The breeze was whipping Sam's shaggy hair around, and the storm clouds were parting to reveal the captivating night sky above them.

"I am glad you're alright, Sam Tyler," said the Doctor.

Sam swallowed nervously. "Need some help up."

The Doctor shook his head painstakingly. "Gimme a sec."

Sam nodded. He looked over at the antenna...and his heart sank. "Oh no...the Dalekanium...it's still on there!"

"I know," groaned the Doctor. "I tried to get it off but I dropped my screwdriver."

"So...the Dalek humans...are alive?" said Sam, his heart rate picking up for a completely different reason now.

The Doctor sat up. "Come on."


They hurried back downstairs and joined the others. The Doctor and Sam told Martha, Frank, Tallulah, and Lazslo about the lightning strike. "So what do we do?" Martha said.

"There's only one chance," said the Doctor. "I got in the way. The gamma strike went zapping through me first."

"So wait..." said Sam. "So there's not just Dalek in those corpses. There's also a little bit of you." He grinned. "You know occasionally, Doctor, you're incredibly clever."

The Doctor gave him a devilish grin, then continued. "We need to draw fire. Before they can attack New York, I need to face them. Where can I draw them out? Think, think, think, think, think. We need some sort of space. Somewhere safe. Somewhere out of the way...Tallulah!" he suddenly exclaimed.

"That's me. Three Ls and an H," said the dancer.

"The theatre! It's right above them, and, what, it's gone at midnight? Can you get us inside?" the Doctor asked.

Tallulah shrugged. "Don't see why not."

"Is there another lift?" the Doctor said.

"We came up in the service elevator," Martha piped up.

"That'll do. Allons-y!"


They met the Daleks and their new batch of humans in the burlesque hall. The Daleks ordered their creations to kill the Doctor and his friends, but the humans refused.

"DALEK HUMANS WILL OBEY!" The Dalek controller shrieked.

"But you are not our masters," said the lead Dalek human. "And we...we are not Daleks."

"No, you're not," the Doctor agreed. "And you never will be. Sorry, I got in the way of the lightning strike. Time Lord DNA got all mixed up. Just that little bit of freedom."

The Dalek humans rebelled against their creators, successfully killing two of them. The final survivor, the controller (Sec had been murdered by the Daleks, whom they considered "unclean") activated a self-destruct mechanism in the Dalek humans' biostructure. The Doctor journeyed to its hideout in the basement laboratory of the Empire State building to face it, but it escaped.

Meanwhile, Lazslo was dying. The pig slaves hadn't been made to have long lifespans. "Doctor, can't you do something?" Tallulah begged tearfully.

The Doctor took in a drawn out breath. "Oh, Tallulah with three Ls and an H...just you watch me."

Sam watched as the Doctor jumped up and dashed about the room, collecting vials and beakers of chemicals. "What do I need? Oh, I don't know. How about a great big genetic laboratory? Oh look! I've got one. Laszlo, just you hold on. There's been too many deaths today. Way too many people have died. Brand new creatures and wise old men and age old enemies. And I'm telling you, I'm telling you right now, I am not having one more death! You got that? Not one."

Sam smiled with pride, tearing up a little.

"Tallulah, out of the way." The Doctor drew a stethoscope out of his pocket. "The Doctor is in."

I think I love this man.


So the Doctor saved Laz's life, and he and Tallulah went with Frank to live in the Hooverville. They knew it wouldn't be easy-Laz was still physically mutated-but they wanted to try.

They parted ways, and the Doctor, Martha, and Sam walked back to the TARDIS, still parked on Liberty Island. "Do you reckon it's going to work, those two?" Martha was asking the Doctor.

Sam was following them a little ways back, thoughtfully silent.

"I don't know," the Doctor told her. "Anywhere else in the universe, I might worry about them, but New York? That's what this city's good at. Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses, and maybe the odd pig slave Dalek mutant hybrid too." The Doctor looked up at the Statue of Liberty and grinned.

"The pig and the showgirl," said Martha, laughing.

"The pig and the showgirl." The Doctor nodded.

"It just proves it, I suppose," said Martha. "There's someone for everyone."

Sam was so lost in contemplation, he didn't notice Martha look over her shoulder at him as she said this.

"Maybe." The Doctor walked into the TARDIS.

Martha didn't follow him. She turned around and looked at the quiet third member of their party. "Sam?" she said.

Sam looked up. "What?"

"Can I ask you something?"

"Just did." Sam grinned. "Kidding, Pidge. Go ahead. Shoot."

"You...you love the Doctor, don't you?" Martha blushed.

Sam froze. "I...well, yeah. He's my best friend."

"Maybe...more than a friend?"

Sam's cheeks got hot. "I don't know what you mean."

"He kissed you in the park."

Sam shrugged stiffly. "Just on the cheek."

Martha breathed in nervously. "Listen, Sam...I know you don't like me."

"What? Don't be ridiculous. What gave you that idea?"

"I'm young, I'm not stupid," said Martha. "Look...I want us to be friends. And yeah, the Doctor is...very attractive. But...I see the way he looks at you. And...I don't want to stand in the way of you two. I don't think I could."

Sam looked at his feet. Annie had once said that the Doctor looked at him, but he didn't want to let himself believe her.

"I'm right, aren't I?" said Martha, breaking into a grin. "You love him. Oh my God. Does he know? Oh, don't worry! I promise, I won't tell him."

Sam looked at her and smiled a little. "You know, Jones...maybe you're not so bad after all."

Martha looked relieved. "Thanks...you're pretty cool yourself, Tyler."

"Oi, are you two planning on staying in the city that never sleeps or are you coming with me?" The Doctor said, poking his head out of the door.

"Coming. Definitely." Martha looked at the other human. "Right, Sam?"

"Yeah," nodded Sam, breaking into a run and rushing inside with his friends. "Oh, Doctor...I'm sorry."

"What for?" the Doctor asked, manning the controls.

"For the Dalek getting away," said Sam. "I hate those abominations like crazy, so I know what it must mean to you."

The Doctor smiled sadly. "Thank you, Sam."

"Think you'll ever see it again?" Martha asked. "The Dalek, I mean."

The Doctor nodded slowly. "Oh, yes...one day."

Sam and Martha looked at each other, a mutual understanding in their eyes.

Chapter Text

"Where are we going, Doctor?" Sam asked.

The Doctor didn't answer as the TARDIS ceased wobbling and landed with a wheeze. "There we go!" he said proudly, with a flick of a lever. "Perfect landing."

"Yeah, but the ride was a bit unstable, that's for sure," Sam muttered to Martha, who giggled quietly.

"Which isn't easy," the Doctor continued, not having heard, "in such a tight spot."

"You should be used to tight spots by now," said Martha. Then she winked at Sam knowingly.

Sam blushed bright red. Martha laughed at him silently. Sam threw his hoodie over his head to hide his embarrassment from the Doctor, who thankfully hadn't picked up on the innuendo. Or least, chose not to hear it.

Martha looked at the Doctor. "Where are we?" she asked.

"The end of the line," the Doctor answered, his hands behind his back.

Sam watched him curiously. The Doctor had that sort of "devil-may-care" slight smile on his face, as if something sad was going on, but the Doctor was trying to pretend it didn't bother him. Sam had seen that face before.

Martha, who hadn't known the Time Lord long enough to pick on context clues, turned and walked to the door. She looked over her shoulder at him.

"No place like it," said the Doctor.

Sam realized what it meant. No place like home.

Martha still didn't get it. She raised her eyebrows excitedly. The Doctor nodded encouragingly. Martha, grinning, opened the door and stepped outside. The Doctor and Sam looked at each other silently and followed her.

"Home?" Martha asked as the two men joined her. Actually, they were nestled inside her bedroom. The room was slightly messy, with feng shui lamps and furniture. Her bedspread, desk chair, and curtains were bright orange. Sam noted the pang of disappointment in her tone. "You took me home?" Martha asked the Doctor.

"In fact, the morning after we left," the Doctor replied, stooping his bony form to gaze at a family picture perched on one of Martha's shelves. "So you've only been gone about twelve hours. No time at all, really."

"But...all the stuff we've done," said Martha, disbelievingly. "Shakespeare, New New York, Old New York-"

"That's the magic of time travel, Pidge," said Sam, grinning.

"Everything should be just as it was," added the Doctor. "Books, CDs..." The Doctor picked up one of Martha's shirt-a tube top, from what Sam could see-with one finger. "Laundry."

Martha grabbed it from him, blushing.

"So, back where you were, as promised."

"This is it?" Martha asked.

The Doctor nodded curtly. "Yeah. We should probably, um..."

Suddenly, Martha's phone rang. Hi, I'm out! Leave a message! came Martha's cheerful greeting on the answering machine.

"Sorry," Martha apologized, sheepishly.

"Why did it only ring once?" Sam said hushedly, as the machine picked up.

Martha, are you there? came a older, female voice that sounded slightly disgruntled. Pick up, will you?

"Mum?" Sam guessed.

"Yeah, I'll just wait."

Alright then, pretend that you're out if you like, Martha's mother continued. The time travelers share a silent chuckle. I was only calling to say your sister's on TV. On the news, of all things. Just thought you might be interested.

Martha picked up the remote on her coffee table and turned on the tube. "How did Tish end up on the news?" The channel was showing a special news report, where there was an elderly Caucasian man addressing the press, and a pretty, willowy black young woman that looked a little like Martha standing behind him.

"But I can tell you that tonight," the man was saying, "I will demonstrate a device which will redefine our world."

"She's got a new job," Martha explained about her sister. "PR for some research lab."

The Doctor didn't seem to be listening. He was focused on the man on the screen.

"With the push of a single button," the man proclaimed, "I will change what it means to be human."

Martha turned off the set as the press were calling out "Professor, Professor!" to the man. "Sorry. You were saying, you should..."

The Doctor tore his eyes away from the blank screen. "Yes, yes, we should..." He nodded. He put his hand on the TARDIS. "One trip, that's what we agreed."

"Yeah." Martha sighed, leaning on the police box. "Guess things just kind of...escalated."

The Doctor hummed. "Seems to happen to me a lot."

"I can vouch for that," Sam put in. He walked over and shook Martha's hand warmly. "It was lovely to meet you, Martha Jones. Thank you."

"No. Thank you," said Martha. "Both of you. For everything."

"It was our pleasure," the Doctor replied, smiling. "Well, come on, Sam."

The two of them walked into the TARDIS, leaving Martha outside. The Doctor went to the console and fired her up. Sam stood on the ramp, looking back at the door. "I'm gonna miss her," he admitted thoughtfully.

"Yeah," said the Doctor.

Sam looked at him. The Time Lord seemed to be lost in thought. "You're doin' that thing again," he said.

The Doctor looked up. "What thing?"

"Thinking," said Sam, coming over to him. "It was that news report, wasn't it?"

"No! No. Well...yes," the Doctor admitted.

Sam sighed. "You want to go back, don't you."

The Doctor groaned. "Yes," he said, sounding like a little kid waiting for Christmas.

"Well? What are you waiting for, idiot?" Sam laughed. "Let's turn this thing around!"

The Doctor grinned. "Alright!"

The TARDIS rematerialized in Martha's bedroom. The medical student looked surprised as the Doctor stuck his head out. "No, I'm sorry, did he say he was going to change what it means to be human?"


Sam and the Doctor changed into their tuxedos, while Martha put on a pretty, beaded black dress. "Oh, black tie," the Doctor complained, buttoning his cuff link.

"What's wrong with it?" Sam asked, making sure his bow tie was straight.

"Don't you remember the Cybermen and the alternate dimension?" the Doctor asked him. "We wore these then, too. They're bad luck."

"Oh, that was one time," Sam laughed.

"Yeah, but still, whenever I wear this, bad things happen," the Doctor insisted.

"That's not the outfit, that's just you," Martha said. "Anyway, it think it suits you. In a...James Bond kind of way. Wouldn't you agree, Sam?" Martha gave her fellow companion a knowing smile.

Sam was glad it was nighttime so the Doctor couldn't see his blush. "Yeah, er...I suppose. Whatever." Martha silently laughed at Sam's nonchalantness.

The truth was, Sam thought the Doctor looked...alright, incredibly hot. Good Lord, didn't he ever wear anything loose? Those pants didn't leave much to the imagination in the posterior department...not that Sam had been checking out the Doctor's bum. Again. Certainly not.

"James Bond?" the Doctor said. He brightened a little. "Really?"

Sam and Martha laughed at him kindly. "And you, Martha, look very lovely," said Sam, nodding to her.

"Thank you, Sam!" Martha grinned. She was really glad that she and Sam were friends now. She elbowed the Doctor. "Why can't any of his charm rub off on you?"

"Oi, 'charm' is my middle name!" the Doctor protested. "Well, that, and 'Aloysius'-wait, no, that's a rubbish middle name, forget I said that. Ah, here we are." The trio was standing out front of a museum-looking building, where there were paparazzi lined up, taking photos. Spotlights illuminated the title of the building, engraved in stone, "LAZARUS LABORATORIES".

Tish had invited Martha, so she got in with her invitation. The Doctor used his psychic paper to get in, but when it came to Sam's turn (he was supposed to be acting as Martha's date), the bouncer let him in without any trouble. "Heh. Thanks," said Sam, quickly following his party inside the gala event.

"Caviar, sir?" asked a waiter, bringing Sam a tray.

"Er, no thanks." This is weird. They're treating me like some sort of celebrity!

"Oh look, they've got nibbles!" the Doctor exclaimed excitedly, grabbing an hors d'oeuvre from a passing tray. "I love nibbles."

"Doctor," said Sam, shaking his head. "I know it'll be a struggle, but do try not to be an idiot for once."

The Doctor tried to glare at him, but was smiling. "Always out to ruin my fun, aren't you, Tyler?"

"You know it." Sam bumped his arm. "I'll always be there to ruin things for you."

"I hope so." The Doctor smiled.

Sam suddenly felt shivery. "Ooh, it's, uh...cold in here, eh? Must be a draft coming in from somewhere."

"Hello!" Tish, Martha's sister, came over, also in a formal evening gown. The girls hugged. "You look great," Tish said to Martha. "So, what do you think? Impressive, right?"

"Very," said Martha, looking around the lavish event hall.

"And two nights out in a row for you, that's dangerously close to a social life," Tish teased.

Sam snorted a laugh. Tish looked at him, and the Doctor. "Hello, I'm sorry, I don't think I know you," she said.

"Er, yeah, sorry, I'm the Doctor," said the tall Time Lord.

"And I'm Sam Tyler," he said as he shook her hand. "Pleasure."

"Wait...you two weren't on the list," said Tish, looking from Sam to the Doctor. "How did you get in?"

"Well apparently, you didn't see the final draft of the list," the Doctor laughed. "We're VIPs."

"I think I would've seen your names, I'm Professor Lazarus's head of P.R.," said Tish. "I put this whole thing together.

"So do you know what the professor's going to be doing tonight? That looks like it might be a sonic microfield manipulator," the Doctor said, quickly changing the subject, casting his gaze to the big refrigerator looking apparatus in the center of the room.

"He's a science geek, I should have known," Tish muttered to Martha. "Got to get back to work now. I'll catch up with you later." And she ran off.

"Science geek? What does that mean?" the Doctor asked.

"That you're obsessively enthusiastic about it," said Sam, putting it nicely.

"Oh." The Doctor smiled. "Nice."

Suddenly, another woman, older, but also looked like Martha, and a young man who was presumably her son, came over to them, the woman saying to the young man, "your father's caused me enough heartache already with his menopause and his trophy girlfriend."

"Yeah, mum, I know. It was just something he said last night," the boy said.

"Martha!" said the woman, and Sam recognized her voice from Martha's answering machine. It was Martha's mother.

Martha whirled around. "Mum!" she gasped, pulling her mother in for a tight hug.

"Oh!" the woman laughed with surprise. "Alright, what's the occasion?"

"Er, what do you mean? I'm just...happy to see you, is all," said Martha quickly. Sam and the Doctor shared a look.

"You saw me last night," Mrs. Jones reminded her daughter.

"I-I know." Martha smiled. "I just...miss you." She turned to the young man, who must be her brother. "You look good, Leo."

"Yeah, if anyone asks me for a drink, I'll swing for 'em." The siblings laughed.

"You disappeared last night," Mrs. Jones said to Martha.

"I...just went home," said Martha.

"On your own?" Mrs. Jones inquired.

Martha looked at her traveling mates. "Erm, Mum, Leo, these are some friends of mine. This is Sam Tyler, and this is the Doctor."

"Doctor what?" Mrs. Jones said.

"No, no, it's just 'the Doctor'," replied Martha. "We've been doing some work together. All of us."

Sam and the Doctor took turns shaking Leo's hand. "Good to meet you, mate," said Sam.

"Likewise," replied Leo.

"Lovely to meet you, Mrs. Jones, heard all about you," said the Doctor, shaking the older woman's hand.

The woman eyed him suspiciously. "Have you? What have you heard, then?"

"Ah, you know...that you're Martha's mother," said the Doctor.

"Smooth," muttered Sam.

"And?" Mrs. Jones pushed.

"Um...actually, that's about it, really," said the Doctor, flushing. "We haven't had much time to chat, you know, we've been busy."

"Busy? Doing what, exactly?"

"Uh, pathology!" Sam broke in, before the Doctor could shove his Converse any further into his own mouth. "We've been working together in the pathology lab. Dissecting diseases, cutting open carcinogens...all that deliciously interesting...pathology...stuff."

"Mm-hm." It was obvious Mrs. Jones didn't believe him, but she at least backed off.

Suddenly, there was a loud tapping of a glass. "Ladies and gentleman..." Everyone's eyes turned to the elderly man standing in the spotlight in the center of the room. It was the same man they'd seen on the telly this morning. "I am Professor Richard Lazarus. And tonight...I'm going to perform a miracle."

The Doctor and Sam kept their eyes trained him. "It is, I believe," Lazarus continued, "the most important advance since Rutherford split the atom, the biggest leap since Armstrong stood on the moon. Tonight, you will watch and wonder. Tomorrow, you will wake to a world which will be changed forever."

Except for the shutters of cameras snapping, the room was silent, awaiting Lazarus's great scientific reveal. The elderly man turned and opened the door of his machine, then stepped inside. Technicians pushed buttons and flicked switches. Then they nodded.

Suddenly the machine lit up with blinding white-blue light, so bright, the humans in the room had to shield their eyes. The four rotors around the machine spun and cranked rapidly. Streaks of electricity flashed around the device, and an alarm began to sound.

"Doctor, is something going wrong?" Sam asked.

"It's overloading!" the Doctor exclaimed. He ran over to the computers, hopped lithely over the counter, and pulled out his sonic screwdriver, beginning to scan.

"Martha, stand back!" Sam said, grabbing his companion's arm. "Everyone, stand back!"

"Someone stop him!" an old woman cried, pointing at the Doctor, who was working frantically to shut down the out-of-control device. "Get him away from those controls!"

"If this thing goes up, it'll take the whole building with it. Is that what you want?" the Doctor shouted. He hopped back over the table and yanked a wire out of one of the computers. The machine, thankfully, began to slow down, and came to a stop.

Sam and Martha rushed to the door of the device, trying to pry it open. The door swung open, emitting a large plume of white smoke.

A hand-the Professor's hand, only now the flesh was young and taut-reached out through the smoke and grabbed the frame of the door for support. "Oh my God," said Sam, stepping back.

The rest of the man followed. His skin was smooth, his hair golden blonde, and his whole person glowed with health. The onlookers gasped.

Professor Lazarus looked at his hand, then touched his cheek. He laughed with delight. He stumbled out of the machine and stood up, straight and tall. "Ladies and gentlemen...I am Richard Lazarus. I am seventy-six years old...and I am reborn!"

The audience went crazy. The Doctor and Sam however, just looked at each other silently, both thinking the same thing: This is very, very wrong.


Turns out, they were right. After a DNA analysis, they discovered that Lazarus's DNA was fluctuating back and forth. He was depleted of energy, which he had literally sucked out of the rich old woman Lady Thaw. And it seemed like Martha's sister Tish was his next target.

"One lifetime's been too short for me to do everything I'd like," Lazarus reasoned. "How much more I'll get done in two or three or four."

"Doesn't work like that," said the Doctor. "Some people live more in twenty years than others do in eighty. It's not the time that matters, it's the person."

"But if it's the right person, what a gift that would be," Lazarus persisted.

"Or what a curse."

Sam felt like taking the Doctor's hand.


The Professor ended up transforming into a monster. Luckily, they got Tish away from him just in time.

Downstairs, the gang was trying desperately to get the party goers out safely. A man grabbed Sam's arm. "Come with me, sir, the chopper's waiting."

"Oi, I'm not going anywhere!" Sam exclaimed. "We've got to get these people out of here. Give that chopper to someone who needs it!" He shrugged the man off and ran away.

Martha and Sam succeeded in evacuating the building. "Martha, get to safety. I'll find the Doctor!" Sam shouted.

"No way, mister, I'm coming with you!" Martha said, running after him.

"Martha, think of your family. They need you right now. There might be people out there who need medical attention. You belong down here." Sam touched her shoulder. "I'll be alright. I always am."

"I thought that last mad scheme of yours had finished you for good," snorted the Rani, a scientific Time Lady, one of the Master's, and the Doctor's, old schoolmates, and now an independent rebel, just like them.

"You jest, of course. I'm indestructible. The whole universe knows that," the Master smirked.

Sam swallowed. "Yeah. I'll be fine. Now, go!"

Sam dashed upstairs. "Where could he be?"

Suddenly, Sam heard a crash from upstairs. "That'll be him." And he ran toward the sound.

The Doctor and Sam found each in a hallway. "Doctor!" Sam cried.

"Sam, what the hell are you doing back up here, are you insane?!"

"No more than you are. Let's run!" The Doctor and Sam clasped hands and raced away from the monstrous Professor chasing after them.

They ran into the reception hall. "What now, we've gone 'round in a circle!" Sam panted.

"Quick, in here!" The Doctor and Sam lunged into the machine.

"Oh, this thing, this started the whole mess!" Sam exclaimed. Since the device was exactly the size of a small closet, the Doctor and Sam were uncomfortably pressed up against each other. Sam's heart was pounding, which he hoped the Doctor would attest to the fact that they'd just been running, and...nothing else.


The Doctor, attracted by the sound of "King John's" singing and mandolin playing, of course had to come snooping. He stuck his bright blonde head inside the bedchamber. The Master, from his dark corner hiding place, silently chuckled at the Doctor's eyes, widening at Kamelion's true form.

The robot looked up at its visitor. "Welcome, my demon," said the robot amiably.

The Doctor pulled his hands out of his pockets, strode across the room to the robot's chair, and knelt beside it, looking the robot over. "Your Majesty seems in need of a Doctor," he remarked.

Of course. No matter what form he took, the Doctor never could resist his own awful puns. Deciding it was time for his trademark dramatic entrance, the Master spoke up. "Allow me to introduce Kamelion."

The Doctor stood up straight as his nemesis revealed himself. "Your work," he said quietly. But was he accusing, or appreciating?

Either way, the Master smirked. "Alas, modesty forbids such a claim. Kamelion is a tool of an earlier invader of Xeriphas, and instrumental in my escape from that benighted planet." There was an edge to his voice. He still had not forgiven him for their last encounter, but was eager to show that he was clever enough to escape on his own, without his enemy's help.

"This is your King John," surmised the Doctor.

The Master smiled cruelly. Now it was really time to show off. "Look again," he entreated, waving a black gloved hand at the creature. Kamelion's outer form changed to that of the current King of England.

The Doctor briefly tipped his head to the side in appreciation. "Impressive," he admitted.

"A weapon used by the invaders of Xeriphas. A decoy, capable of infinite form or personality," said the Master proudly.

"Interesting."

"Well said, my demon," said the false King, putting down his mandolin. "We are a complex mass of artificial neurons."

"And controlled by?" inquired the Doctor.

"Nothing more than simple concentration and psychokinetics," replied the Master. "Look again." The Master channeled his mental energy into transforming Kamelion into his next form: the Doctor.

The Doctor looked from his double, to his foe. The Master raised an eyebrow. A challenge.

The Doctor corresponded, understanding immediately. "Can anyone play?"

The Master smirked. "Please."

The Doctor concentrated, and Kamelion morphed into the Master. The second man in black familiarly leered at his original and said, "Quite masterly."

The Master was less than amused. "You flatter me, I prefer bad King John."


Sam shook himself out of his daydream. "He knows we're in here," he said to the Doctor.

"But this is his masterpiece," said the Doctor. "I'm guessing he wouldn't destroy it, not even to get to us."

"But how are we going to get out of here?!" Sam hissed. The Doctor's scent was right in his breathing space, and one of his spindly legs was lodged between his thighs. It was rather distracting. Life or death, Tyler, life or death! he angrily reminded himself.

The Doctor looked sheepish. "Ah. Right. That."

Sam couldn't believe it. "You don't have a plan, do you?!"

"It's kind of been touch and go here, Sam, I've never exactly dealt with age-reverse- humans-who-mutate-into-soul-sucking-monsters before!"

Outside, Lazarus growled. The Doctor angled his arm around Sam's shoulders. "Oomph, Doctor!" growled Sam as his face was pressed into the Doctor's neck.

"Sorry, sorry, needed to get this." The Doctor dug his screwdriver out of his breast pocket. "Okay, just...sorry about this." He started to slid down Sam's body.

"Whoa, whoa, Doctor, what are you doing?!" Sam gasped.

"Improvising!" the Doctor exclaimed from somewhere around Sam's pelvis.

Sam stood back and braced himself against the side of the machine. He looked down in disbelief at the spiky head between his legs...

Oh. Oh dear.

Oh my God, thought Sam, as he felt his blood, heated, rushing through his body. Not here! Not NOW!


"So Kamelion here is bad King John," the Doctor repeated.

"Aided and abetted by you, his 'demon'," the Master quoted, amusedly, "and your blue engine."

"Cunning of you to confirm the superstitions put about by the monks," said the Doctor, raising his eyebrows, giving a cool smile.

The Master stepped away from Kamelion to better address his adversary. "Irresistable," he couldn't help but purr. "Your arrival here was most timely."

"A gift," said the Doctor, bitterly sarcastic.

The Master let his eyes travel briefly over the Doctor's body. Was it the candle lighting in this castle, or did the Doctor look even more attractive than usual? "How succinctly put."

Perhaps the Doctor noticed the staring, because the Master caught sight of a blush as the Doctor turned away (that was fine, the Doctor's backside was equally pleasant to look at) to pace thoughtfully. "The King turns the Barons solidly against him, he is killed in battle or deposed, possibly in favour of King Phillip of France. He cannot therefore offer Magna Carta. What do you think of it so far?" the Doctor asked mockingly.

"I couldn't do better myself," the Master said smugly.

"Thus the foundations of parliamentary democracy..." The Doctor breathed on the back of Kamelion's head and shined it up with the sleeve of his beige jacket, with an air of swagger. "...will never laid."

The Master smirked. The Doctor's quick mind was even more stimulating than his physical presence. "Brilliant," he said, complementing the both of them.

The Doctor's expression turned from cocky to serious. "You cannot be allowed to alter the course of history, even indirectly."

"How do you propose to stop me?" the Master inquired.

"I shall have to give it some thought," said the Doctor.

"You haven't much time," the Master pointed out.

"And you haven't your compressor," the Doctor snapped back.

The Master stepped forward and leaned into the Doctor's face. He relished the sight of the Doctor's blue eyes widening at the sudden invasion of his personal space. At this distance he could smell the Doctor's Venusian Spearment flavored toothpaste. "I still have my wits," he hissed.

The Doctor, though his eyes betrayed fear (and perhaps, anticipation?), held his resolve. "So do I."


"Erm...Doctor," Sam strained, cursing himself for his voice coming out squeaky.

"Sam? You alright?" The Doctor's voice echoed up.

"O-o-oh yeah, I'm fine," Sam stammered. Just PLEASE don't look up.

Suddenly, the machine started to shake, and the sides lit up. "Doctor, he's started the machine!" Sam exclaimed, slightly relieved to have something to take his mind off of the inopportune erection he'd suddenly developed.

"I was hoping it was going to take him a little bit longer to work that out," the Doctor grimaced, frantically trying to rewire the device.

"What are you doing?!" Sam exclaimed.

"I'm trying to set the capsule to reflect energy rather than receive it!" the Doctor shouted.

"Will that kill it?" Sam asked, panicking.

"When he transforms, he's three times his size. Cellular triplication. So he's spreading himself thin."

The machine began rattling even harder, the light shining brighter. "We're going to end up like him!" Sam cried. "Reverse the polarity, do something!"

"Just one more circuit!"


It worked. The machine outwardly discharged the energy and knocked the beast out. The Doctor and Sam crawled out of the machine and looked at poor, pathetic Professor Lazarus's body lying on the ground. "Man...he seems so...human now," said Sam. "It's kind of pitiful."

The Doctor nodded. "This is the way the world ends. Not with a bang, but with a whimper."

"T.S. Eliot?" Sam said.

The Doctor nodded. "You're full of surprises, Sam Tyler. By the way, how did you know about reversing the polarity?"

"Er...guess I heard you say it," Sam lied. Well, it wasn't technically a lie. He'd seen it in his visions of the younger Doctor and his nemesis, the Master.

The Doctor stared at him for a second more, then shrugged and looked back at Lazarus's body.

"Doctor! Sam!" the two heard Martha yell as they came out of the museum. She came rushing up to them and hugged them both. "So...it's over? It's really over?"

They watched as Lazarus's corpse passed by on a stretcher. "It's over," said the Doctor.

"Martha! Mum, she's over here!" Tish and the rest of Martha's family came rushing over.

"Ah, Mrs. Jones. Lovely to see you again." Suddenly, Mrs. Jones slapped the Doctor across the face. "Ow!"

"Stay away from my daughter!" Mrs. Jones hissed at him.

"Mum!" Martha squawked.

Mrs. Jones turned to her daughter. "He is dangerous! I've been told things!"

"Mrs. Jones, this was all Professor Lazarus's doing. If anything, the Doctor saved us all," Sam insisted.

Mrs. Jones gave him a hawkish look. "And you! You stay away from her too."

Suddenly, they heard a crash. A crash that sounded like it might have come from an ambulance. "Oh no," said the Doctor.

"Not over, then." Sam and the Time Lord rushed down the street after the noise. "Martha, no!" Mrs. Jones shouted as the medical student followed after them.

They found Professor Lazarus, alive, sitting huddled in the middle of Southwark Cathedral, draped in his ambulance shroud. Lazarus tried to feed on Martha and Tish, but with some genius on the Doctor's part, they were able to reverse the process once and for all.

They were safe.


Back at Martha's flat, the Doctor and Sam were preparing to leave. Again. "Something else just kind of escalated," said the Doctor, leaning against the TARDIS.

"Tends to happen around us," Sam added.

Martha nodded. "I noticed. You two should take more care in the future. And the past. And whatever time period you find yourself in."

"It's good fun, though, isn't it?" the Doctor said, grinning.

"Yeah," Martha laughed.

Sam looked at the Doctor. "Come on, Doctor. One last trip? Martha?"

Martha smiled and looked at the TARDIS, then frowned. "No. Sorry."

"But I thought you liked it," said Sam.

"I do, but I can't go on like this. 'One more trip.' It's not fair."

"What're you talking about?" the Doctor asked.

Martha gave Sam a meaningful look. "It's just...I'm only getting in the way. That TARDIS may be big, but it's not big enough for all three of us. Doctor, you have Sam, you really don't need me. I don't just want to be the girl that tags along. I'd rather stay here."

"Okay, then," shrugged the Doctor. "If that's what you want."

Martha nodded firmly. "Right. But we've already said goodbye once today. It's probably best if you just go.

Martha turned away from them. The Doctor and Sam looked at each other and laughed.

Martha turned back around. "What is it? Why are you two laughing?"

"What? I said okay," said the Doctor shruggingly.

"Sorry?"

"You heard the man," said Sam. "Okay."

The two of them gestured to the TARDIS.

Martha finally got it. "Oh, thank you, thank you!" She eagerly hugged both of them.

"Well, Pidge, you were never just 'the girl that tags along', were you?" said Sam, ushering them into the TARDIS. Still laughing, he was about to follow them inside, when suddenly, Martha's answering machine sounded.

It was Martha's mother again. Martha, it's your mother. Her voice sounded scared. Please phone me back. I'm begging you. I know who this Doctor really is. I know he's dangerous. You're going to get yourself killed. Please, trust me. This information comes from Harold Saxon himself! You're not safe!

Sam whirled around at the name. Harold Saxon? His alternate self?

"Sam? Come on!" called the Doctor.

"Coming!" Sam ducked inside the TARDIS. He shook off the message. Surely, it couldn't be what he thought...

Something bad is coming, Sam thought.

Chapter Text

Last night...

The Doctor was sleeping soundly when he was awoken by a noise. Someone was opening his door.

"Sam?" he said, slowly blinking, But the room was pitch black, and he couldn't see anything. He heard floor boards creaking, inching slowly toward his bed.

He felt a weight on his side, like someone climbing onto the mattress and balancing on their knee. Then something warm, human, straddled his pelvis, bent legs on either side of his thighs.

"Sam?" The Doctor repeated, more surprised this time. His eyes were adjusting to the darkness, and he could now see his companion's face directly above him. "What are you-"

Sam shushed him. Then, without warning, he leant down and kissed the Doctor.

The Doctor's breath caught in his chest. "Sam!" His voice came out muffled under Sam's lips. "What-"

"Mm-mm," Sam murmured, bringing up a hand to cup the Doctor's cheek, and kissed him again. The Doctor found himself kissing back, melting into the union. He gasped as Sam suckled his lips, first the top, then the bottom, and involuntarily moaned as Sam carefully bit down. The Doctor's eyelids fluttered shut and he helplessly relaxed into the other man's embrace, Sam's right hand twining in his soft, brown, spikey hair.

Sam finally broke the kiss, backed up a bit, and looked down at him, lust and affection lacing his eyes. "Sam, what are you doing here?" the Doctor whispered, utterly dazed.

Sam shushed him again, putting a finger to his lips, then lightly tracing it down the Doctor's chin, his neck. The Doctor shivered.

"Look at you," Sam whispered. His fingers continued down toward, drawing little trails down the Doctor's chest. "Oh, Doctor," breathed Sam. "My Doctor."

He leaned down again, this time opting to kiss his sensitive Time Lord neck, nuzzling the soft flesh of his throat, licking and biting. The Doctor was moaning loudly-

The Doctor gasped and sat up in bed. His whole body was flushed, and his lower anatomy was...quite stimulated, let's leave it at that.

It had been a dream. Just a dream.

The Doctor was glad his room was far off from Sam's or Martha's. If either of them had heard him moaning in his sleep like that-oh, Rassilon, would that have been embarrassing.

The Doctor hoped that neither of the humans were up, and tromped off to the bathroom. He had a little trouble walking.


The next morning...

"Right, there we go." The Doctor finished sonicking Martha's phone and chucked it to her. "Universal roaming. Never have to worry about a signal again."

Martha looked down at the mobile in her hand. "No way."

"Yes way, Pidge," Sam grinned at her. "He did the same with my phone, oh...so long ago."

The Doctor smiled at him.

Sam noticed that the Doctor's eyes looked slightly worn; there were dark rings under them. "Had trouble sleeping last night, mate?"

The Doctor looked away quickly. Was Sam just imagining it, or did the Doctor blush? "Er, yeah, I'm fine. Just..." The Doctor coughed nervously. "Had a funny dream."

"This is too mad." Martha was still in disbelief about her phone. "You're telling me I can phone anyone, anywhere in space and time on my mobile?"

"As long as you know the area code," the Doctor joked. "Frequent flier's privilege. Go on, try it."

Martha seemed to be about to call someone, when suddenly, the TARDIS gave a great shudder. "Distress signal," explained the Doctor as he checked the screens. "Locking on. Might be a bit of-"

The time travelers were knocked to the floor. Martha sat up, looking quite shaken up. "-turbulence," the Doctor finished. "Sorry. Come on, you two. Let's take a look."

They walked out into a red-lit boiler room. Sam immediately shrugged off his hoodie. "Whoa, now that is hot!" the Doctor exclaimed, fanning himself.

"Whuff, it's like a sauna in here," said Martha, shedding her sweater.

"What the hell?" groaned Sam, wishing they were back in the nice, cool TARDIS. "What is this place?"

"A venting system," the Doctor answered, looking around. "Working at full pelt, trying to cool down...wherever it is we are." The Doctor had spotted a door across the room and started heading for it. "Well, if you can't stand the heat..."

The Doctor opened the bulkhead and went through. "Ah, well that's better," the Doctor said, waving his companions through.

"Oi, you two!" The Doctor, Sam, and Martha's heads whipped around to see two men and a woman running toward them. "Get out of there!" shouted the woman.

"Seal that door, now!" ordered one of the men. The other came and bolted the door that the trio had just come through.

The woman ran up to them, panting. "Who are you?" she demanded. "What are you doing on my ship?"

One of the men, a young lad with hazel eyes and dark hair, asked, in a slight Irish accent, "Are you police?"

"Why would we be police?" asked the Doctor.

"We got your distress signal," said Martha.

"Hang about," said Sam, looking at the ceiling inquisitively. "If this is a ship, why can't I hear any engines?"

Just what I was going to ask. Brilliant, Sam! the Doctor couldn't help but think proudly.

"It went dead four minutes ago," the woman answered. She was middle aged, had long, stringy, dark blond hair, and big, intense green eyes. Her limbs were bony, and her hands her big and calloused.

"So maybe we should stop chatting and get to Engineering," said the second man to her in a thick Scottish accent. He was about the same age as the woman, with dark eyes and unruly sandy brown hair. "Captain," he added pointedly.

Suddenly, a computerized voice from up above announced: Secure closure active.

"What?" said the Captain, shocked.

"The ship's gone mad," muttered the angry Scot.

"Who activated secure closure?!" Another woman, with short dark hair and long, nearly skeletal arms and legs, was running up the corridor toward them, narrowly missing the bulkheads closing behind her. She was carrying a welding helmet and some gloves. "I nearly got locked into area twenty seven!" The last bulkhead slammed shut behind her. Skeletor looked around at the newcomers. "Who are you?" she asked.

"He's the Doctor, that's Sam, and I'm Martha. Hello," said Martha numbly, walking right past Skeletor and approaching a window on the far side of the room.

"Martha?" Sam followed her to the window and looked out. "Oh my God. Is that-?!"

Impact projection: forty two minutes twenty seven seconds, announced the computer.

"We'll get out of this," swore the Captain, looking at all of them. "I promise."

"Doctor," said Sam. "You need to see this."

"Forty two minutes until what?" the Doctor asked the Captain.

"Doctor! Look!" exclaimed Martha.

The Doctor ran over to look out the window with his companions. Outside, was a yellow, glowing, firey orb, that was huge, and was growing. They were moving toward it.

"Forty two minutes until we crash into the sun," said the Captain.

The Doctor felt Sam's hand slip into his. "What do we do?" his traveling mate whispered.

The Doctor swallowed. He squeezed Sam's hand reassuringly, then dropped it to run back over to the Captain. "How many crew members on board?" he questioned her.

"Seven, including us," answered the Captain, indicating herself, Scotty, the Irish lad, and Skeletor.

"We transport cargo across the galaxy," said Scotty. "Everything's automated, we just keep the ship spaceworthy."

"Call the others, I'll get you out!" The Doctor bolted for the door through which they had just come.

"What's he doing?!"

"No, don't!" the Captain cried.

The Doctor wrenched open the door, and a huge cloud of hot, hot steam came pouring out of the room. Skeletor put on her welding gear to push it closed again. "But my ship's in there!" shouted the Doctor.

"In the vent chamber?!" said the Irish lad in disbelief.

"Long story," muttered Sam.

"It's our lifeboat!" the Doctor insisted.

"It's lava," said Scotty sourly.

"Temperature's goin' mad in there!" Skeletor exclaimed, checking the thermometer on the wall next to the door. "Up three thousand degrees in ten seconds and still rising!"

"Channeling the air," said Scotty. "Closer we get to the sun, the 'otter that room's gonna get."

Martha glared at the Doctor. "We're stuck here."

"Martha, calm down," said Sam, putting a hand on her shoulder.

"'Calm down'?!" Martha shrieked angrily.

"So...we fix the engines, we steer the ship away from the sun. Simple!" said the Doctor. "Engineering down here, is it?" He took off for the side room. Sam, Martha, and the crew followed after him.

Impact in forty twenty six.


It wouldn't be as simple as the Doctor thought. The engines were absolutely wrecked, and Korwin, the technician, was nowhere to be found. There were auxiliary engines, but they were all the way at the front of the ship, with 29 sealed bulkheads to get through, all with randomly generated passwords. Martha went with the Irish boy, Riley Vashtee, to help him open the doors, while Sam opted to stay with the Doctor.

"Figure I can keep you from getting in trouble this way," said Sam, elbowing him playfully.

McDonnell. A man's voice over the ship's intercom. It's Ashton.

The Captain answered the call. "Where are you? Is Korwin with you?"

Get up to the medcenter. Now, said Ashton, and clicked off.

Captain McDonnell looked the Time Lord. "You're a Doctor, right?"

The Doctor nodded and followed after her. "Sam." He stopped and looked over his shoulder. "Be careful."

Sam nodded solemnly. "You too."

Impact in thirty four thirty one.


The Doctor and McDonnell arrived in the medcenter, where a lady nurse and a grizzly bald man were trying to pin down a desperately wriggling man with his eyes clenched shut.

"Korwin, it's Abi," said the lady nurse in a calm voice. "Open your eyes, I need to take a look at you."

"Korwin!" exclaimed McDonnell. "What's happened? Is he okay?"

"Help me! It's burning me!" wailed Korwin, struggling against his restrainers.

"How long's he been like this?" the Doctor asked.

"Ashton just brought him in," said the nurse, Abi, nodding to her assistant.

The Doctor scanned Korwin with his screwdriver. "What are you doing?" McDonnell asked him.

"Don't get too close," warned the Doctor.

"Don't be so stupid. That's my husband," said McDonnell, coming over the patient's side to get a better look at him.

"And he's just sabotaged our ship," added Ashton gruffly.

McDonnell whipped around to face him. "What?!"

"He went mad!" explained Ashton. "He put the ship onto secure closure, then he set the heat pulse to melt the controls."

"No way. He wouldn't do that," McDonnell insisted.

"I saw it happen, Captain," Ashton informed her.

"Korwin?" said the Doctor. "Korwin, open your eyes for me a second."

"I can't!" groaned Korwin, keeping his eyelids firmly shut.

"Yeah, course you can. Go on," encouraged the Doctor.

Korwin gasped in pain. "Don't make me look at you, please," he begged.

The Doctor grabbed a hypo-needle gun from a side table. "Alright, alright, just relax. Sedative?"

"Yes," gasped Korwin.

The Doctor shot him in the neck. Korwin cried out in pain, then went slack. McDonnell looked at the Doctor. "What's wrong with him?" she asked.

"Rising body temperature, unusual energy readings. Stasis chamber, I do love a good stasis chamber," he said, pointing to the MRI-looking machine they had Korwin slid out of. "Keep him sedated in there. Regulate the body temperature. And, just for fun, run a bioscan and tissue profile on a metabolic detail."

"Just doing them now," said Abi, at the computer.

"Oh, you're good," the Doctor commended her. "Anyone else presenting these symptoms?"

"Not so far," Abi reported.

"Ah, well, that's something," sighed the Doctor.

"Will someone tell me what's the matter with him?!" McDonnell questioned.

"Some sort of infection," said the Doctor. "We'll know more after the test results. Now, allons-y, back downstairs, I left my companion down there alone, and bless him, he's a bit of an idiot. Call us if there's news. Any questions?"

"Yeah, er...who are you?" asked Abi as the Doctor, McDonnell, and Ashton were running out together.

The Doctor poked his head back in. "I'm the Doctor." Then he dashed back out.

Heat shield failing. At twenty-five percent. Impact in thirty two fifty.


As the Doctor, Sam, Ashton, the Scotsman (his name was Scannell), and Skeletor (Erina), worked on the engines, Martha and Riley were working to open the doors. "Martha, Riley, how're you doing?" the Doctor said on the intercom.

Area twenty nine at the door to twenty eight! Martha answered.

"Yeah, you gotta move faster," the Doctor urged.

We're doing our best!

Find the next number in the sequence, came Riley's voice. 313, 331, 367...what?

You said the crew knew all the answers, said Martha.

The crew's changed since we set the questions.

You're joking!

"379," Sam whispered to himself.

The Doctor looked at him. "What did you say?"

"Uh...just...nothing, I didn't say anything," said Sam.

"Yes, you did, say it again," the Doctor said.

"Er...just..." Sam swallowed. "379?"

The Doctor stared at him in disbelief.

"Sorry, stupid, I just...I don't know where I came up with it-"

"No, no, that's...yes, that's it, you're brilliant!" The Doctor surged forward and kissed Sam on the forehead. Then he ran back over to the speaker. "379!"

What? Martha said.

"It's a sequence of happy primes, 379!"

Happy what? Martha asked.

The Doctor sighed in disgust. "Just enter it!"

Are you sure? Riley asked. We only get one chance!

"Any number that reduces to one when you take the sum of the square of its digits and you continue reiterating until it yields one is a happy number; any number that doesn't, isn't; a happy prime is a number that is both happy and prime, now type it in! Ugh, talk about dumbing down. Don't they teach recreational mathematics anymore?" said the Doctor, turning to Sam, throwing up his arms up in disgust.

Sam shook his head. "How did you say all that in one breath?" he asked, grinning.

The Doctor smiled coyly. "I don't know, Sam Tyler. How did a bloke who never even took his A-levels compute a complicated sequence like that? Your tiny human brains are too under-evolved for that." He ruffled Sam's thick hair with his knuckles playfully, tucking the human's head under his arm, making Sam laugh. "That's why you got so much hair, you know! You got no brains! Your body's overcompensating!"

"Oi, Doctor, let me go!" Sam cackled as they rough-housed.

"Excuse me." Both boys disentangled at the sound of McDonnell's stern voice. "Hate to interrupt the moment, but we are on kind of a time limit."

"Right, sorry," the Doctor apologized. "Riley? Martha? That code work for you?"

Martha let out a relieved laugh. We're through!

"Keep moving, fast as you can. And, Martha...be careful," added the Doctor ominously. "There may be something else on board this ship."

Any time you want to unnerve me, feel free, said Martha sarcastically.

"Will do, thanks," said the Doctor.

Impact in thirty fifty.


The Doctor came over to his companion. "How are you?" he asked.

"Oh, swell. You know, considering I'm working with space technology I know nothing about, in a creepy dark ship in a beeline for the sun. But you know. I'm fine." Sam smiled up ruefully at the Time Lord.

The Doctor laughed slightly. "You're a good man, Sam Tyler."

"Doctor..." said Sam slowly. "Doesn't this remind you of anything? Like say...Krop Tor?"

The Doctor thought back to that planet that was inexplicably orbiting a black hole, and how the Doctor and Sam got stuck on the Sanctuary Base there. "Yeah...but, hey, we got out of there alive that time, we'll get out of this mess too."

"Will we?" asked Sam, looking at him sharply. "How do you know that?"

The Doctor sighed and sank down beside him. "Sam...did I ever tell you how I got through that? Facing the Beast, releasing Krop Tor from its orbit?"

Sam shook his head.

"Because I had faith...faith in you," said the Doctor.

"Me?" Sam laughed a little. "Why me?"

"Because that time, I had to depend on my faith in something I believed in. So I focused on you."

Sam looked down at his lap. The light in the room was dark, but the Doctor thought maybe Sam was blushing. "And now..." continued the Doctor, putting a hand on his shoulder, "...I have to ask you to believe in me."

Sam smiled. He put his hand over the Doctor's. "I do. Till the end of time, Doctor. And whatever comes after that."

The Doctor smiled back and began to walk away, but then Sam said, "Doctor, wait. There's something I have to tell you-"

Doctor, these readings are starting to scare me. Abi's voice cut him off.

"What do you mean?" the Doctor asked, going over to the intercom.

Well, Korwin's body's changing, his whole biological makeup!...it's impossible.

Then suddenly, there was silence. Then...

This is medcenter, said Abi, her voice shaking slightly. Urgent assistance required. Urgent assistance!

Another voice joined hers. BURN WITH ME, croaked Korwin.

"Stay here, keep working!" said the Doctor, running out to assist the medic.

"I'm going with you!" exclaimed Sam, chasing after him. McDonnell and Scannell went, too.

Then, they heard a scream.

In the medcenter, they found a woman's silhouette burned into the wall. "Oh my God..." said McDonnell weakly. "Tell me that's not her."

The Doctor lightly touched the ashes on the wall that used to be Abi. "Endothermic vaporisation," said the Doctor.

And Korwin was gone. "He killed her," said Sam.

"No," said McDonnell. "My husband would never."

"Captain," said Sam gently. "I think your husband's gone."

"And now he's somewhere on this ship," said Scannell darkly. "Waiting to kill us all."

Impact in twenty four fifty one.


Things were bad. Korwin was dead, but now Ashton was infected. Erina and Abi were dead. The time was quickly ticking away till they were all dead, and the heat shields were failing every moment. Worst of all, Martha and Riley were trapped inside an escape pod, drifting toward the sun.

There was only one thing to do. The Doctor would have to take a space walk to the outer hull, to be able to remagnatize the escape pod and get it back.

"You want to open an airlock in flight on a ship spinning into the sun. No one can survive that!" Scannell protested as the Doctor pulled on his spacesuit. "You open that airlock, it's suicide. This close to the sun, the shields will barely protect you."

"If I can boost the magnetic lock on the ship's exterior, it should remagnetize the pod. Now, while I'm out there, you and Sam have got to get the rest of those doors open. We need those auxiliary engines." The Doctor put on his helmet.

"Doctor, will you listen! They're too far away. It's too late," Scannell insisted.

The Doctor looked him dead in the eye. "I'm not going to lose her." Then he turned around. Sam was standing there. "And is this the part where you tell me not to go, that this is too dangerous?" the Doctor asked him.

Sam shook his head slowly. "No. Past experience has told me it doesn't do any good. You just go anyway. Besides, you have to save Martha. If I was in your shoes, I'd do the exact same thing. So go on. Be the hero...idiot." Sam smiled.

The Doctor smiled back. He shook Sam's hand. "It was a pleasure working with you, Mister Tyler."

Sam rolled his eyes. "Oi, if I'm never gonna see you again, I get more than a bloody handshake." And he pulled the Doctor into a tight hug.

The Doctor wrapped his arms around Sam's back, bringing him as close as possible. "But do come home in one piece, Doctor," said Sam softly. "Please."

"I promise," murmured the Doctor. "I will find my way back to you, Sam Tyler. Always."

Sam pulled away and looked up at him. "Go on," he said, breathing shakily. "Time's a-wastin'."

The Doctor nodded, locked his helmet into place, and entered the airlock.

Impact in twelve fifty five.


When the Doctor got back into the ship, he was infected, but still self-aware. The sun was alive. It was angry, because the cargo ship's crew had illegally scooped out its core and used it for fuel. He fought the urge to open his eyes, to burn them all to dust.

"Doctor!" he heard Sam cry.

The fire inside him died down a bit. That's it, the Doctor told himself. Focus on his voice. Focus on Sam Tyler. I believe in Sam Tyler!

"You've got to freeze me, quickly," urged the Doctor.

"What?" Sam asked.

"Stasis chamber. You've got to take it below minus two hundred. Freeze it out of me! It'll use me to kill you if you don't. The closer we get to the sun, the stronger it gets! Med-center, quickly! Quickly!"

Sam, Martha, and McDonnell dragged the Time Lord to the stasis chamber. "You'll kill him!" McDonnell exclaimed as Sam hoisted him into the machine and Martha manned the controls. "No human can survive those temperatures!"

"He's not human! Trust me, he's survived a lot worse," said Sam, patting the Doctor's chest, clutching his hands. "Attaboy, mate, you're gonna be okay."

"Let me help you," said McDonnell to Martha.

Martha glared at her. "You've done enough damage, thanks."

"Martha, Martha, I-I've got to tell you something," gasped the Doctor. Oh, Rassilon, his body was on fire- "There's this process Time Lords go through, when they're about to die...Sam's seen me do it before, he can talk you through it-"

"Doctor, no, just shut up, you are not going to regenerate!" Sam shouted.

"Sam, I could, if I have to, I'm not going to let this thing take me over to kill all of you-"

"Doctor." The Time Lord felt blessedly cool lips press against his burning ones. Then again, he may have imagined it; the heat was probably giving him delirium. "I believe in you," Sam whispered. Then, he shouted: "Martha, now!"

Sam pulled away, and the Doctor felt the gurney slid back into the chamber. As the cold sensation began, the Doctor yowled in pain. It felt like his body was ablaze from two different fires, one hot, one freezing, and it was ripping him apart-

Then the Doctor saw white.


Doctor.

The Doctor opened his eyes.

It was blessedly cool. He was lying on the floor of his TARDIS, with a man with brown hair and hazel eyes standing over him. "Sam?" the Doctor said, sitting up.

Sam chuckled gently. "Not for some time, Doctor." There was something different about his voice. The Cockney in it had faded away, and it sounded clearer, more smooth. Then the Doctor realized he had not addressed him in English.

The Doctor gasped. "Did...did you just speak in Gallifreyan?"

"Yes, my love, I did," said Sam, in that strange, cool, clear voice. He was smiling down at the Doctor as if there were nothing more dear to him in all the cosmos.

The Doctor realized that Sam's hair was not a scruffy mop like it normally was, but well manicured and combed neatly. He had traded his jeans and hoodie for a black business suit as well. "What happened to you?" the Doctor asked him.

"Well, Doctor, as your sixth self would have said...'Change, my dear. And it seems not a moment too soon.' But none of that matters right now." Sam bent down and ran his hand through the Doctor's hair. The Doctor shut his eyes and leant into the caress. "You have to wake up, my love. There's still trouble out there, and you have to fix it," Sam whispered tenderly.

"No," said the Doctor stubbornly, clinging to Sam and hugging him close. "I want to stay here, with you."

"I know," said Sam, continuing to stroke his hair. "But you know this isn't real."

The Doctor choked. "I love you," he said.

"And I you. You'll see me again, very soon. I've missed you so much. But time is running out, Doctor. You must wake up now. You must-" Suddenly, the dreamscape was interrupted with a tremor, and the heat came flooding back.

The Doctor woke up, though he kept his eyes completely shut. It hadn't been enough time, he hadn't gotten cold enough. "No, you can't stop it, not yet!" he shouted.

"What's happened?" Martha said.

"Power's been cut in engineering!" the Doctor heard McDonnell say.

The Doctor began to yowl with pain as the heat inside him burned brighter, beating at him to get out.

Impact in four forty seven.

"Martha! Sam! Listen to me! I've only got a moment! You've got to go, now!"

"No way!"

"I'm not leaving you, mate!"

"Get to the front," the Doctor stuttered. "Vent the engines. Sun particles in the fuel, get rid of them."

"I am not leaving you!" Sam said stubbornly.

"Neither am I!" Martha added.

"You've got to! Give back what they took!" the Doctor persisted.

"Doctor!" shouted him companions.

"Please go!" yelled the Time Lord.

There was a moment of deliberation. "We'll be back for you," said Martha. "Come on, Sam!"

"No, Martha, I'm stayin' with him!"

"Sam, please, I won't be able to control myself for much longer! I can't lose you!"

"And I'm not leavin' you, you bloody idiot!"

The Doctor cried out in desperate frustration.

Impact in three forty three.

The Doctor groaned and rolled off of the table. "Doctor!"

"Sam, run away. Now!"

"No, Doctor, we'll get this out of you, I promise!"

The Doctor rolled around on the floor. "Doctor!" The Doctor felt Sam grab his shoulders. The Doctor snarled and knocked Sam off of him.

"Doctor, I know you can fight this. You're not going to leave me behind. It's you and me, always. Doctor, hear me!" Sam cupped his face in his hands.

Impact in two seventeen.

The Doctor was losing all his senses, all his thoughts, except one: keep your eyes closed. Keep Sam Tyler safe. But it was becoming increasingly impossible not to open his eyes.

"Sam! Don't look at me!"

"Doctor?" Sam backed away.

"I can't fight it! Give it back, or..." The Doctor's eyes opened. They were firey balls of light. "Burn with me."

Sam gasped and scooted farther away in horror.

"Burn with me, Sam," the Doctor hissed.

Sam ran from the room. The Doctor arose from the ground and began stalking after him.

Impact in one twenty one.

The Doctor pushed out of the medcenter and felt arms grab him from behind. Sam knocked him to the ground and pinned him. "Lucky for me," grunted Sam, "you're so skinny!"

Life support systems reaching critical. Repeat. Life support systems reaching critical.

"Doctor," groaned Sam, trying desperately to keep the Time Lord pinned to the floor. "This looks like the end...and I know you're not yourself right now...an' hell, I'll probably never even see the real you again...but I have to tell you..."

Collision alert. Collision alert.

"Being with you..." gasped Sam, thrusting against the Doctor to keep him down, "...it was the best. An' I never for one moment regretted it. From the very beginning, the moment you grabbed my hand in the basement of that department store...I knew something had clicked into place..."

Collision alert. Collision alert.

The Doctor roared and flipped over, on top of Sam. His eyes were clenched closed.

"I was meant to be with you, Doctor," said Sam, looking up into his face earnestly. "There's no one else in the universe for me...just you."

The Doctor screamed.

Sam gasped, a tear rolling down his cheek, and whispered: "I love you, Doctor."

Fuel dump in progress.

Suddenly, the Doctor wrenched and arched his back, facing the ceiling. He groaned loudly, the fire in his eyes dying out. They turned back to their normal brown, and the Doctor slumped over on top of Sam.

Sam chuckled with relief as he heard the engines come back online. He patted the Time Lord on top of him on the back. "That'll do, Doctor. That'll do."

The Doctor stirred and opened his eyes. They were gazing directly into Sam's. "Is it over?"

Sam laughed. "Yes. It's over." He impulsively stroked the Doctor's hair.

The Doctor smiled and leaned into the touch. "You should do that more often."

"Doctor! Sam! Oh, thank God!" Martha came running in. The men stood up and both hugged her. They all cried with relief.

Impact averted.


"This is never your ship," said Scannell in disbelief, staring at the TARDIS.

"Compact, eh?" said the Doctor, patting side her fondly. "And another good word, robust. Barely a scorch mark on her."

"We can't just leave you drifting with no fuel," said Martha, looking at the remaining crew members.

"We've sent out an official mayday," Riley reassured them. "The authorities'll pick us up soon enough."

"Though how we explain what happened..." Scannell whistled and shook his head, scarcely believing they'd made it. The Doctor had to agree.

"Just tell them," he said, "that sun needs care and protection just like any other living thing."

Sam shook hands with them. "Good luck, mates."

"And you," said Scannell.

"So, er," said Riley, grabbing Martha's hand. "You're off then. No chance I'll see you again?"

The Doctor looked at Sam. They shared a knowing smile.

Martha blushed and smiled politely. "Not really. It was nice...not dying with you." They laughed, then Martha said, "I reckon you'll find someone worth believing in."

Riley looked at her with puppy dog eyes. "I think I already did."

Martha looked regretful. Then, she quickly leaned in and kissed him. They pulled apart with an awkward suction noise. "Well done," swallowed Martha, blushing furiously in the red light. Then she added jokingly, as she climbed to the TARDIS, "Very hot."

Riley and Scannell laughed as the time travelers went inside their box. They closed the door behind them and dematerialized.

Sam elbowed Martha. "Sure you don't want to stay?"

Martha laughed shyly. "Very sure. So!" she said, looking at the Doctor. "Didn't really need you in the end, did we?"

The Doctor was looking somberly off into the distance. "Sorry," Martha apologized. "How are you doing?"

The Doctor held the trance for a minute, then looked her. "Now, what do you say?" he asked, evading the question. "Ice skating on the mineral lakes of Kur-haan. Fancy it?"

Martha shrugged. "Whatever you like."

"By the way..." The Doctor reached into his breastpocket and pulled out something. "...you'll be needing this." It was a TARDIS key.

Martha brightened. "Really?" she squealed happily.

"Frequent flier's privilege," said Sam, before the Doctor could.

The Doctor handed her the key. "Thank you," he said.

Martha accepted the key. "Don't mention it," she whispered. Then, suddenly, Martha gasped and began digging for her cell phone. "Oh, no! Mum."

As Martha stepped into the outside corridor to call her mother, Sam looked at the Doctor. "Really...are you alright?" He cautiously touched the Doctor's hand.

The Doctor smiled at him wearily. "I will be."

Sam nodded. Something seemed to be on his mind. "Er...Doctor...when you were...you know...all monster-y...do you recall...anything at all?"

The Doctor thought of his strange vision, of being in the TARDIS with Sam. Or, not-Sam. It was so confusing. Had it just been a fever dream? "No, nothing," said the Doctor. "Just...it was warm. Very...warm."

Sam exhaled. "That's good."

"Why?" the Doctor asked him.

Sam shrugged. "Oh...no reason."

The Doctor hummed nonchalantly and set the coordinates, sailing them into time and space.

Chapter Text

From John Smith's Journal Of Impossible Things...

10 November 1913

Chilly today. Worrying about catching that case of the sniffles that's going around, so I've asked Martha to up the amount of citrus in my diet. Had another funny dream last night. About HIM. About the Doctor. Martha was in it too, she and I traveled together. And the new English instructor, Tyler, was there too. Something was chasing us, hunting us down. Something wanted me dead. And there was a watch in the dream too. It was very important for some reason, but the strange thing is, I know I've seen that watch somewhere. The whole thing is dodgy, to be honest. Oh, here comes Martha with breakfast.

John put down his quill and looked up as the dark skinned maid came in carrying a tray. Martha looked at him and turned back toward the door. "Pardon me, Mister Smith, you're not dressed yet, I can come back later-"

"No, s'alright, s'alright, put it down." John shrugged on his dressing gown. Martha kept her eyes averted out of respect. "I was...just writing some stuff down. Stuff I was dreaming about...sorry, sorry. Sometimes I have these extraordinary dreams."

Martha bustled about the room, opening the curtains to let in the morning sunlight. "What about, sir?"

"I dream I'm this..." John struggled for the right word. "Adventurer. This daredevil, a madman. 'The Doctor', I'm called. And last night, I dreamt that you were there as well, and Sam, well, Mister Tyler, the English teacher. You were my...companion."

"And what was Mister Tyler, sir?" Martha asked.

John blushed.


"Get down!" cried the Doctor. He, Martha, and Sam ran into the TARDIS, diving onto the floor to dodge a green laser, that blasted the console. Luckily, his ship was unharmed.

The Doctor managed to get the door shut. "Did they see you? This is important, did they see you?"

"No, mate, we were too busy running away," said Sam, dusting off his jeans.

"Then off we go!" The Doctor started the TARDIS in motion.

Sam came over to the Doctor and touched his shoulder. "Who are they, Doctor?"

The Doctor felt the familiar thrum of his hearts as the man touched him. "I don't know, Sam. But whoever they are, they're dangerous. And...argh, they're following us!" he added, checking the monitor.

"How is that possible?" Martha asked, running around to his other side. "You've got a time machine."

"Stolen technology. They've got a Time Agent's vortex manipulator. They can follow us wherever we go, right across the universe." The Doctor clenched his hair in frustration. "They're never going to stop, unless...I'll have to do it."

"Do what?" Sam asked.

The Doctor turned to his companion. "Sam, do you trust me?"

"Of course," said the man, shaking his head in confusion.

"Martha, do you trust me?" the Doctor asked, looking at his other companion.

"Yes."

"Good. Because it depends on you. Both of you."

"What does?" Sam said.

The Doctor faced him. "Sam. I need you to help me."

"Anything, Doctor."

The Doctor pulled an old watch, decorated with spirographs, out of his pocket. "Take this watch, because my life depends on it. This watch is-"


That was when John had woken up. "He...he was my companion too," he nervously answered Martha.

Martha smiled. "Two schoolteachers and a maid? That's impossible."

"I was a man from another world though," said John.

"Well then it can't be true," said Martha, sugaring his tea, "because there's no such thing."

"Suppose you're right," sighed John. "Now, if you'll pardon me, Martha, I have to get dressed."


John had just finished all his morning classes, and was coming out of his classroom, arms stacked high with books. From the lower level, John heard a familiar voice call out, "'Lo, Smith!"

John tripped in surprise, his books scattering all over the floor.. "Oh, let me help you!" said a feminine voice.

John looked up. It was Nurse Redfern. "Ah. Matron," he said, nodding.

The nurse smiled at him politely. John felt his cheeks heat up.

"Smith!" John heard the first voice call out behind him, as a man's footsteps came up behind him. "Sorry about that, didn't mean to surprise you." The man bent down to also help him with his books, smiling warmly.

"Oh, erm, no harm done, Tyler, none at all. Thanks." John took his books from the English teacher gratefully. "So, Matron, how was Jenkins?"

"Oh, just a cold, nothing serious. I think he's missing his mother more than anything."

"Smith, I was just wondering if I could talk with you about lesson plans."

"Huh? What?" John looked at Tyler. "Oh, yeah, sure, maybe later." He turned back to Nurse Redfern. "Well, we can't have that. About Jenkins, I mean, missing his mother."

"He received a letter this morning, so he's a lot more chipper. Do you need some help with those?" the nurse asked, pointing to the books in John's arms.

"No, no, that's alright," John said.

"Do you want to split them?" Nurse Redfern asked.

"Well, ah...yes, actually, that would help a great deal, thank you," said John, handing off some of his books to the nurse. "Brilliant, brilliant, division of labor."

"We make quite a team," joked the nurse.

"Don't we just." John smiled.

"Here, Smith, I'll help too-"

"That's okay, Tyler, Nurse Redfern and I have it, thank you," said John, jerking away from the English teacher. "Didn't you say you have...lesson plans to do or something?"

Sam sighed as "John" walked away with the nurse. "Yeah. Suppose I do."

Martha came up behind him. "Alright, Mister Tyler?"

"It's just us, Martha, you can call me Sam."

"Sorry," said Martha. Then she added, in a whisper, "about him, I mean. The Doctor. He's not himself right now, you know. Otherwise you two would be palling around like you always do."

"Yeah. Seems Johnny Boy has himself a new 'pal'," said Sam morosely, watching John and the nurse standing on a landing together, looking at some sort of bulletin together.

"I hate this place as much as you," said Martha. "The boys-they're just awful."

"What did they say?" Sam asked her, turning around to face her.

Martha shook her head. "Nothing I haven't heard before."

"Martha, just tell me who it was. I'm a teacher, you know, I can dole out some discipline for you."

"No, you can't. If I tell you who it was, they'll know I snitched. They'll make it even worse. I'm fine, really I am."

"Was it that little canker Hutchinson? Or Baines? Oh, I just bet it was. I had to deal with boys like him all throughout public school, boys who picked on me for being poor, for being a foster kid. They never change, no matter what century it is. The next time I see him-" Sam's threat was cut off by the sound of a loud thump and papers rustling.

Sam and Martha looked over the banister. John had fallen down the stairs. "Oh my God!" Martha exclaimed.

"Come on!" said Sam, grabbing her hand and pulling her along.


They burst into John's room where the nurse was bandaging up John's head. "Is he okay?" Sam exclaimed.

"Tyler, what are you doing in here? And Martha, you know better than come in without knocking," John scolded.

Martha rolled her eyes. "Right." She pranced over to the door and rapped her knuckles against the wood of it mockingly. "Better?"

"We saw you fall down the stairs, mate, are you okay?" Sam asked.

"Really, it was just a tumble. I don't understand why you're getting so upset," said John puzzledly. "It's not really your concern."

"Yeah," said Sam, deflating slightly. "S'pose not."

John cleared his throat. "Actually, I was just telling Nurse Redfern-I mean, Matron-about my dreams."

"What dreams?" Sam asked, looking at Martha.

"Well, um...I keep imagining that I'm someone else, and I'm hiding."

"Hiding? In what way?" Nurse Redfern asked.

"Er...almost every night...this is going to sound silly," John flushed.

"Go on," said Sam. "Tell us."

"I dream quite often...that I have two hearts," said John.

"Well, I can be the judge of that. Let's find out." Nurse Redfern took out her stethoscope and listened to John's chest with it.

Sam's fists clenched.

Nurse Redfern smiled at John. "I can confirm the diagnosis. Just one heart. Singular."

Sam looked at Martha. "Oh. Interesting. And uh...it's just you in these dreams?"

"No, no, actually, there are others...well, I sort of sketched them, here, in my journal. It's all there, written down. Not that it would be of any interest."

"I'd be very interested," said Nurse Redfern.

"Oh?" John blushed. He pulled the diary out of his pocket. "Well...I've never actually shown it to anyone."

"Can I see?" Sam came over and looked over John's shoulder as he displayed the diary to him and Nurse Redfern.

"Just look at all those creatures," said Nurse Redfern, touching a picture of a Dalek. "Such imagination."

Sam suddenly imagined Nurse Redfern getting shot by a Dalek.

"Mister Tyler, look. You're in the story as well," said Nurse Redfern, surprisedly. "And Martha too."

Sam looked at John in fake surprise. "Really? Hmm. Wonder why."

John cleared his throat uncomfortably. "Oh, I dunno. Suppose it's the proximity to our arrivals. You showed up to Farringham right after I did."

"Yeah," said Sam, nodding. "I guess that's it...well. I have...erm...lesson plans to do. If you're alright, I'll just...leave you to it, then." And he bowed out.

Sam heard Martha's footsteps following him. "Sam, don't be sad, I...I think he really does remember his...relationship with you. He just doesn't want to admit it. Look, this is a different time. People have been practically spitting on me because I'm black, and they would have thrown homosexuals in jail...or worse. I'm sure it's nothing personal, he's just trying to repress it."

"Yeah, and meanwhile, his precious little matron is doing her best to help him at it," Sam grumbled. "Look, it's fine, I get it. Soon, hopefully, it'll be safe for him and he can open the watch and we can all just forget this horrible place."


The next morning, Sam found a note in his breakfast napkin from Martha. Strange light in the woods last night. I'm a little worried. Going to the "shed". Ta. -Martha

Sam dressed and went downstairs, thinking he'd head down there too. This whole Matron thing was starting to worry him. On the stairs, he passed Baines. "Oi, you. Master Baines. I want to have a word-"

Baines turned slowly to look at him. There was a strange look in his eye. He gave a great sniff, stared a moment more, then turned away and continued up the stairs.

Sam watched him go. "Odd." He turned around and found himself nose to nose with the Doctor. "Smith! Oh, good morning. How are you?"

"Fine," said John dismissively, trying get by him.

"Um, Smith, I wanted to talk you-"

"Well make it fast, I have a class this morning and of course Martha's disappeared to Lord knows where-"

"Well, it's about, er...that story you wrote, about the dreams you've been having."

"Yes, yes, what about them?"

"Well...what do you remember? I mean, what did you dream about? About me?"

John sighed. "I just...travel, and you're there with me. That's all."

"But like..." Sam had grabbed John's hand. "Is there anything...significant about us?"

"Like what?" John snapped, trying to tug away.

"Well, like...are we...close?"

John stopped. "I don't know. We're just friends, alright?"

Sam's heart throbbed. "Just friends?"

"Yes, just friends! Now I gotta go!" John managed to pull away and hurried up the stairs.

Sam stood there a moment, feeling dejected.


Martha had just gotten out of the shower in the 'shed', or rather, the TARDIS, which was hidden safely away in a little stone dugout in the woods. She may have been stuck in 1913, but that didn't mean she had to surrender her right to hot showers with strong water pressure.

She had redressed and was squeezing the water out of her hair when she passed by a room with an open door. She looked in. It was a bedroom, with some books sitting beside a comfy armchair and an ornate reading lamp. On the bed was a black hoodie. Martha smiled. It must be Sam's room.

She spotted something laying on the nightstand, shining slightly in the warm lamplight. She strode into the room and picked it up.

It was a pocketwatch. Martha put it to her ear, but it was broken. She tried to open it, but it was stuck fast. But what scared Martha were the circular carvings on the outside.


"This watch is me," the Doctor told them urgently.

"What?" said Sam and Martha together.

"Those creatures are hunters. They can sniff anyone out, and me being a Time Lord, well...I'm unique. They can track me down through all of time and space."

"So what do we do?" Sam said.

"They can smell me, they haven't seen me," said the Doctor. "And their lifespan will be running out, so we hide. Wait for them to die."

"But they can track us down," Martha pointed out.

"That's why I've got to do it," said the Doctor. "I have to stop being a Time Lord. I'm going to become human."

"Human?" said Sam. "How?"

The Doctor typed in some codes on the TARDIS's mainframe. A futuristic headset came down from the ceiling of the TARDIS. "Never thought I'd use this," the Doctor said, watching it descend. "All the times I've wondered..."

"What does it do?" asked Martha.

"Chameleon Arch. Rewrites my biology. Literally changes every single cell in my body. I've set it to human." The Doctor plugged the watch into the headset. "Now, the TARDIS will take care of everything. Invent a life story for me, find me a setting and integrate me. Can't do the same for you two. You'll just have to improvise. I should have just enough residual awareness to let you in."

"But, hold on," Sam piped up. "If you're going to rewrite every single cell, isn't it going to hurt?"

The Doctor looked at him. "Oh, yeah. It hurts."

Sam surged forward and hugged him tightly. Then he pulled away. The Doctor nodded and strapped on the headset. Sam and Martha closed their eyes as the Time Lord screamed.


The watch looked exactly like the Doctor's.

Martha, in wonder, turned the watch over. There was a cursive, capital K etched into the brass. Martha reached into her pocket and pulled out the Doctor's watch, which held his true persona inside, and looked at it. It had a letter T on it. Except for the letters, the watches were identical.

"Martha?"

Martha gasped and nearly dropped the watches. She put the Doctor's watch back into the pocket of her apron. Then, she put Sam's watch in her jeans, which she was wearing under her dress. "Coming, Sam!" She dashed from the room.

Sam, in his period appropriate black slacks and shoes, white shirt with incredibly puffy sleeves, floppy black bowtie, and dark red waist coat, was standing in the console room, looking over the controls. "Martha, I need to see that video message the Doctor left again."

"Oh, sure." Martha pulled the screen around in front of him and tried not to act guilty. "I was actually just about watch it again myself."

"Oh yeah. The...light in the woods thing," said Sam. "I'm sure it's nothing. No need to worry, Martha."

Martha didn't look so sure. "I just don't know. I got a bad feeling."

The Doctor face appeared on the scanner. "This working? Sam, Martha, before I change, here's a list of instructions for when I'm human. One, don't let me hurt anyone. We can't have that, but you know what humans are like. Two, don't worry about the TARDIS. I'll put it on emergency power so they can't detect it. Just let it hide away. Four-no, wait a minute. Three. No getting involved in big historical events. Four...you two. Don't lose each other. And don't let me abandon you."

Sam mentally scoffed. Too late for that, mate.

Martha frustratedly fast forwarded through. "There must be something here!"

"And twenty three. If anything goes wrong, if they find us, then you know what to do. Open the watch. Everything I am is kept safe in there. Now, I've put a perception filter on it so the human me won't think anything of it. To him, it's just a watch. But don't open it unless you have to. Because once it's open, then the Family will be able to find me. It's all down to you. Your choice. Oh, and..." The Doctor smiled nervously. "Thank you."

Martha pulled the watch out of her pocket. She and Sam looked at it worryingly. "I just don't know what to do," sighed Martha. "I wish he'd come back."

"So do I, Pidge," said Sam, wrapping his arm around her shoulder in a brotherly fashion. "I miss that big dopey grin more than anything. But really, I'm sure it's fine. We just have to make it through one more month. We can do it."

Martha looked up Sam and nodded. "Yeah. You're probably right. I better go. I'm sure they're looking for me, and it'd be pretty bad if I got fired, eh?" She laughed, although it didn't sound like she thought it was so funny. "Well...see ya." She headed out the door.

Sam sighed once she was gone. "What are we going to do?"

Suddenly, the scanner flipped back on. "Sam?" The Doctor's face reappeared on the screen. Sam looked up in surprise.

"If the TARDIS is showing this, it means you're in the ship by yourself. That's good, because there's something I need to say to you, and it's very important."

Sam moved his face closer to the screen.

The Doctor sighed and rubbed his face. "I...I'm not really sure how to say this. If we had more time, I could tell you this in person. I probably should tell you in person, but...for now, let's just say...look, traveling with you has been...wonderful. Absolutely wonderful. And I...you mean so much more to me than you can possibly know. I owe you so much. If I..." The Doctor exhaled. "If I don't make it out of this alive, the TARDIS is yours. Take yourself and Martha home. Live your life. Forget about me." The Doctor smiled ruefully. "Just give me a little thought now and then, eh?...Stay brilliant, Sam Tyler."

The screen flickered off.

Sam growled in frustration and smacked the side of the screen. The TARDIS groaned at him in protest, but he didn't care. "That doesn't tell me anything, old man! Urgh! Time Lords."


Joan blushed as she looked at the portrait John had sketched of her. "Oh goodness," she said, happily flustered. "Do I look like that? You sure that's not me?" she added, laughing, pointing to a space monster John had scrawled on the opposite page, of a 'Slitheen', as his dream had called it.

"Most definitely this page," John laughed, tapping the lovely woman on the right side. "Do you like it?"

"You've made me far too beautiful," said Joan.

John smiled. "Well that's how I see you."

Joan turned her eyes downward shyly. "Widows aren't supposed to be beautiful," she said quietly. "I think the world would rather we stopped." She looked up at him, gazing deep into his eyes. "Is it fair?" she asked him. "That we stop?"

John's heart (his one, singular heart) thumped like mad in his chest. "That's not fair at all," he murmured. He reached out and touched her soft blonde hair, then cupped her cheek and gently kissed her.

Suddenly, as their lips met, a vision overtook his mind's eye. It was...of Sam Tyler, the English teacher. John was lying on his back, in some kind of machine, in a bright orange space suit, his eyes clenched shut, with Sam leaning over him, softly kissing his lips for comfort. John was excitedly kissing Sam's forehead in the middle of a dark, hot spacecraft, after Sam had solved a complicated math problem. John was standing in a park in New York City with Sam, kissing him on the cheek. John was sitting on the floor of the Doctor's ship, the TARDIS, with Sam cupping his face, kissing him urgently. John and Sam were together in a street in London, after the torch lighting of the 2012 Olympics, and John was kissing the top of Sam's head. Sam was kissing John passionately in the corridor of a futuristic hospital. John had a different face and was gently kissing Sam, absorbing the golden yellow energy from the TARDIS.

Then, they heard footsteps and John quickly pulled away from Joan, unable to explain any of what he'd just seen.


"John! I need to speak with you-" Sam came running into John's quarters, where to his horror, he found the skinny man in a deep kiss with Nurse Redfern.

"Tyler, what the hell are you doing in here?!" John roared.

Sam was at a loss for words. "I...er..."

"Just...get out!" John ordered, rubbing the bridge of his thin nose in frustration, pointing to the door with a bony finger.

Blinking back tears, Sam hurried out of the room. He shut the door behind him and leaned his back against it. "That wasn't on the list," he whispered to himself.

Chapter Text

From John Smith's Journal Of Impossible Things...

11 November 1913

The big dance is tonight, and I actually worked up the nerve to ask Joan. She said yes. Ah, sweet success. We actually shared a kiss as well, which would have been absolutely perfect if that blasted Sam Tyler hadn't burst in on us. He looked at me as if I'd kicked a puppy. Do you suppose he fancies Joan as well? I can't imagine, but perhaps that's why he keeps sabotaging us.

Speaking of Sam-and the kiss-something very impossible happened. As soon as Joan's lips met mine, I had a flash of something. It was like my dreams, except it was during the daytime. It was a quick montage. It was of Sam. And me, well, "the Doctor". And the thing was...we-they-were kissing. Two blokes, kissing! After that I had to go and pull out my Bible and read Leviticus to myself again. I would say that it meant nothing, but usually my dreams happen at night, when I'm sleeping. This one struck me during the day-while I was kissing Nurse Redfern, no less!

What does it all mean? Why should I be imagining kissing some bloke I hardly know when I already have a lovely woman who fancies me? (Yet for some reason I have this feeling I have known him for eons...)

Hopefully, I'll be able to put it all behind me tonight at the dance. I don't think Tyler will be showing up. It will just be Joan and me tonight.

Wish me luck.


"He had to go and fall in love with a human..." Sam said, blinking tears from his eyes. "And it wasn't...it wasn't-oh God, Martha, why does it hurt so Goddamn much?"

"I'm sorry, Sam. Really, I am," said Martha, rubbing his back.

Sam shook his head. Then he asked, "Martha? Do you have the watch?"

Martha's heart started beating hard. "W-what watch?" she asked.

"What do you mean, what watch?" said Sam. "The Doctor's watch, of course."

"Oh. Right." Martha discreetly sighed with relief as she brought out the fobwatch, marked with a T, and handed it to Sam. "Why do you want it?"

"Because I'm gonna keep it from the Doctor. I mean...John Smith," said Sam.

"What are you talking about?" Martha asked.

"Look, the Doc-John-is obviously happy as he is, with Joan. So, unless there's an absolute emergency...he's gonna stay like that."

"Like what?"

Sam licked his lips. "Human."

"What? You mean...forever?" Martha said with a gasp. "But what about...what about the TARDIS, what about us?"

Sam shrugged. "We'll leave. We'll go away. The TARDIS has an emergency protocol that's programmed to take its passengers back to their own time and place. You'll be able to get home, back to your family."

"And you? What will you do without him?" Martha said, jerking Sam's arm. "Look, the Doctor wouldn't want you to do this. He'd want to know who he really was. He'd want you."

"Well, I thought that, but clearly, I'm a poor judge of feelings," Sam laughed bitterly. "Maybe the Doctor did...have feelings for me, once. But either he's forgotten about them or I screwed it all up waiting too long to tell him how I really feel. Either way...he has someone else now. I'm letting him go."


"How do I look?" asked Joan, modeling her evening gown.

"You look wonderful," said John, smiling.

Joan blushed happily. "You'd best give me some warning: can you actually dance?"

John thought for a second.

"Alright. Impress me."

"Huh?" The Doctor turned around, slightly taken aback.

Sam shrugged and held out a hand. "You said you got the moves. So show me your moves." He grinned a little, raising an eyebrow playfully.

"Sam, I'm…I'm trying to resonate concrete," said the Doctor, uncomfortably.

"Come on," prodded Sam. "The world doesn't end 'cause the Doctor dances.

After a moment's hesitation, the Doctor swaggered down off the ledge and took Sam's outstretched hand, then, surprising the both of them, pulled Sam in close. He heard Sam gulp slightly.

The Doctor smiled and they started to sway to the music. "Not bad," admitted Sam. "Though I will admit, Captain Jack could probably teach you a thing or two."

"What, like this?" The Doctor suddenly dipped the man tango style, and held him there. "And he's 'Captain Jack' now, is he?" he breathed seductively.

"Well…" Sam was trying to get his breathing under control, still clutching him firmly. "His name's Jack. He's a captain. It's very…Pirates Of The Caribbean, isn't it?"

"Yes, but he's not really a captain, is he, Sam?" said the Doctor, pulling Sam upright again and heard him give a faint sigh of relief.

"Maybe you're just jealous," muttered Sam.

"I personally think 'Doctor' sounds more impressive than 'Captain'. More original. More mysterious."

"It's definitely unusual, I'll give you that," smirked Sam. That earned him an impromptu spin around. Sam, unprepared for it, stumbled into the Doctor, hands splayed on the man's chest.

Sam slowly looked up at the Doctor, cheeks red as roses. Their faces were extremely close...

John shook his head. "I'm...not sure," he muttered.

"There's a surprise," chuckled Joan. "Is there anything you're certain about?"

No. Not anymore. "Yes," answered John, smiling reassuringly and taking her hands. "Yes."


The sun was going down. Everyone, including John and Joan, was getting ready to head to the village dance. Except Sam, that was. He was standing in the garden, by himself, brooding. He took the Doctor's watch out of his pocket and looked at it.

Suddenly he heard clattering footsteps. Martha whizzed out of the school building and grabbed his hands. "Sam, run!"

"Why, what is it?" Sam said, following her.

"They've found us!"

Sam's blood ran cold. "Who?!"

PSHOO! A blast of green light shot at them from a second story window. Sam looked back over his shoulder and saw one of the other maids, Jenny, armed with a gun that certainly did not belong in Edwardian England. "Oh, God! The Doctor!" Sam exclaimed, running after Martha.

A minute later, Sam and Martha burst into John Smith's quarters. "They've found us!" gasped Martha.

"This is ridiculous," admonished Joan.

"You two. What is it with you two, thinking you can burst in here without knocking?" John fumed.

"They've found us and I've seen them, they look like us, like people," babbled Martha.

"It's true, I've seen it!" Sam added.

"Sam. give him the watch," said Martha, looking at her fellow companion.

Sam reached into his pocket...but it was gone. "Oh no."

Martha's eyes widened. "What do you mean, oh no?"

"I...it must've bounced out when we were running!" Sam said, his hands flying to his shaggy hair distressedly.

"What?!" Martha screeched.

"I'm sorry!" Sam exclaimed.

"That's okay, we'll just go back and find it-"

"What are you talking about, a watch?" John asked.

"You had this watch, a fobwatch, I had it, but I gave it to him-"

"You mean, you stole my property?!" John accused.

"No, no, you don't understand, you left it to us for safe-keeping, in case-"

"I remember doing no such thing. You must be lying," said John.

"Oh, God, Doctor, look, we're hiding from aliens, and they've got Jenny, and they've possessed her or copied her or something-"

"Martha, feigning insanity does not excuse your thievery! Now, I'm very sorry, but you are fired."

Martha's mouth fell open. "What?!"

"Yes, I'm sorry, but you're fired. I order you to leave these premises at once! As for you, Mister Tyler, I demand that you leave Matron alone. I can understand if you carry a torch for her, very understandable, she's very lovely, after all, but as she has made no indication that she reciprocates your feelings, I must insist that you stay away from her."

Sam's jaw dropped open. "What? You think I-that she-you...are such...a wanker sometimes!" Sam's fingers balled into a fist, and he punched the Doctor in the face.

"Oh my!" gasped Joan, covering her mouth with her hand.

"Sam!" Martha exclaimed, shocked.

"Oh, so that's how it is, eh?" said John, getting back up, rubbing his sore cheek. "Alright, Tyler, you asked for it." He balled up his fists and assumed a boxing position, hopping from foot to foot. "You and me, a gentleman's duel. Tomorrow, at noon, in the courtyard. You choose the weapon. The winner receives the Matron's affections."

"Doctor, I do not want to fight you," said Sam disgustedly. "You want to hit me back, fine, go ahead, I don't-ow!" Sam fell to the floor as John's fist connected with his jaw.

"I'm so sorry you had to see that, Matron," John was apologizing to Nurse Redfern. "I'm not normally such a violent brute, I swear, but if it means defending your honor, I'll fight anyone I have to."

Sam looked up at Martha, rubbing his sore jaw. "He has got such bony knuckles."

"Alright, Tyler. Do you concede, then?" John said, tensing for another attack.

Sam glowered at him. "You are such an IDIOT! Don't you understand, we came here to warn you that-"

"Matron and I are not really interested in what you have to say," said John, taking the nurse's arm. "Come on, Joan. We'll be late for the dance. The two of you had better be gone when I return, or I'll call for a constable!"

"Your life's a lie!" Sam yelled at their retreating backs. "You're not a schoolteacher. You're not even human! You're a homosexual alien from outer space!"

"Come on, Sam," said Martha, urging him to his feet. "We've got to get to that party. We've got to protect the Doctor!"


"Oh, staff entrance, I think, miss!" the man at the door of the hall said as Sam and Martha approached.

"Yeah, well, think again, mate," said Martha dismissively, as they breezed by him.

"Okay, here's the plan," said Sam. "I'll secure the perimeter, sniff around for any predators. You go and find the Doctor, since he doesn't currently want to clock you in the face."

"No, just arrest me for stealing," said Martha flatly. "Fine. See you in a tick."

They parted ways. Sam nosed around the building, but found nothing. So he entered the dance hall, where he saw Martha standing with the Doctor and Joan. Martha was showing the Doctor his sonic screwdriver, trying to jog his memory.

"...the man from your journal," Martha was saying. "He's real. He's you."

"She's right, mate," said Sam, coming up beside her. "You should listen to her."

John's brown eyes flicked back and forth between his two former companions, till realization dawned on his face. "Ahh...I understand now."

"Praise Omega!" said Sam, relieved.

"It's her you fancy, not Matron," John continued.

"What?" said Sam and Martha together.

"Oh, Tyler, I'm sorry, really I am. No hard feelings?" John offered, holding out his hand to shake.

"THERE WILL BE SILENCE! ALL OF YOU!" yelled a voice. Everyone's head turned to look at the party who had entered. It was Baines, Jenny, and a portly man named Mr. Clark.

"It's them," said Sam.

"Right good perimeter sniffer you are," Martha muttered.

"Mr. Clark, what's going on?" said the master of ceremonies, aghast.

Mr. Clark pulled out a gun and fired on the emcee, exploding him into green dust. The partygoers screamed.

"Mister Smith? Everything we told you, just forget it!" Martha said to the Doctor. "Don't say anything."

"We asked for SILENCE!" bellowed Baines. "Now then. We have a few questions for Mister Smith." His round, eerie eyes bore into the Doctor.

"No, better than that," said a tinkering little voice, as a little girl wearing a pink bow in her hair and clutching the string of a red balloon in her fingers, came out from the corner to join the other ominous three. "The teacher. He's the Doctor. I heard them talking."

Baines smirked at the Doctor. "You took human form," he cooed.

"Of course I'm human. I was born human, as were you, Baines," insisted John, perplexed. "And Jenny, and you, Mister Clark. What is going on? This is madness."

"Ooo, and a human brain, too. Simple, thick and dull," laughed Baines.

"But he's no good like this," Jenny mentioned.

"We need...a Time Lord," Mr. Clark growled.

One two three four. One two three four. The very mention of the title had the drums tapping in Sam's mind again.

Baines scoffed. "Easily done. He stepped forward and raised his alienistic gun. "Change back," he ordered.

"I don't know what you're talking about," said John.

"Change back!" Baines roared.

"I-I literally do not know!" John exclaimed, panicking.

Suddenly, Sam yelped as Mr. Clark grabbed him from behind and put his gun to his head. "Get off me!" he yelled.

"He's your friend, isn't he? Doesn't this scare you enough to change back?" said Mr. Clark.

"I don't know what you mean! Please, just let him go!" John exclaimed.

"Mm, just smell the pheromones coming off the two of them," said Jenny, sniffing hard. "I think that one's more than just a friend, wouldn't you agree?"

"No, you've got it all wrong! I hardly know Smith! Killing me will achieve nothing! There's nothing out of the ordinary here, just leave, please!" Sam shouted.

"Wait a minute," said Jenny. She pointed at Martha. "The maid told me about Smith and the Matron. That woman, there." She indicated Nurse Redfern.

"Then let's have you." Clark gestured for Jenny to grab the nurse, which she did, and copied her partner in threatening Joan with a gun.

"Have you enjoyed it, Doctor?" mocked Baines. "Being human? Has it taught you wonderful things? Are you better, richer, wiser? Then let's see you answer this: which one of them do you want us to kill? Your faithful companion, who's stuck by your side for so long, or your new love, who's made you completely forget about him?" He sneered at the confused would-be-schoolteacher, who was looking from Sam to Joan in a panic. "Your choice," Baines hissed.

Chapter Text

"Make your decision, 'Mr. Smith'," mocked Jenny, jabbing her gun insistently at Joan.

John's brown pupils flicked back and forth, from Sam to Joan, all around the room, looking for a way out of this.

"Perhaps if that human heart breaks, the Time Lord will emerge," Baines sneered liltingly.

God, I wish I hadn't dropped that watch! Stupid, foolish human! Sam scolded himself.

Suddenly, the Family turned their heads, sniffing hard, and Sam heard a deep voice in his head echo "Time Lord..."

"It's him!" hissed Baines. Then, the commotion stopped as abruptly as it had started.

Sam dove at the opportunity while his assailant was distracted, twisted and maneuvered till it was him that had Mr. Clark, and aimed his laser gun at Baines. "Alright!" he called. "One more move and I shoot!"

"Oh, the English teacher is full of fire!" Baines cackled.

"That's right! And you can shut the hell up, mate!" Sam fired at the ceiling, with a loud BLLLLRG.

"Careful, Son of mine," Mr. Clark warned calmly, still twisted in Sam's grasp. "This is all for you, so you can live forever."

"Shoot you down!" Baines called out, aiming his own weapon at Sam, who stayed stoic.

"Try it," Sam goaded. "We'll die together."

Baines laughed at him softly. "Would you really pull the trigger? Looks too scared."

"I'm not the Doctor," said Sam. "Not even close. I'll kill you without a second thought. So..." He brandished the gun. "Do you want to risk it?"

Sensing the truth in Sam's words, the Family slowly put their guns down. Joan rushed to John's side. "Good. Very good," said Sam. "Martha? You and Mister Smith get everyone out of here."

"But...Sam..." John was staring at Sam as if really seeing him for the first time.

"I'll be fine, John, just go! Get your lady friend to safety," Sam ordered.

"Listen to him, all of you, get outside, now!" Joan said, grabbing John's hand and rushing the queue out of the building.

Sam, never taking his eyes off of the invaders for a moment, listened intently for the last sounds of screams and clattering footsteps running out into the village. Mr. Clark wriggled out of Sam's grasp and scuttled over to his Family, but Sam yelled out, "Don't try anything. I'm warning you, or sonny boy gets it," he added, aiming straight at Baines.

Baines merely sneered. "He's almost brave, this one." The Family began advancing on Sam, who backed up, still holding the gun.

"I should have taken his form," commented Mr. Clark. "So much younger, so much spirit."

Sam swallowed as the aliens pressed closer and closer. "What happened to these humans?" he demanded. "Are they gone?"

"They are consumed," answered Jenny. "Their bodies are ours."

"You mean they're dead," said Sam.

"Yes," said Baines, sneering. "And they went with precious little dignity. You humans, all that cowardice, all that screaming."

Suddenly, something grabbed Sam from behind. "Get the gun!" shrieked Baines.

The thing wrestled the gun from Sam's hands. Not waiting around to see what it was, Sam raced out of the hall, not looking back.

As Sam hurtled out the door, he spied John Smith standing dumbly at the end of the walk. "What the hell are you still doing here?!" he shouted at the Time Lord-turned-human as he ran in his direction. "Bloody hell, you're useless as a human. Come on!" Sam grabbed the ex-Doctor's hand and pulled him away with him.

"Sam-" gasped John, struggling to continue sprinting-as a human he had no respiratory bypass, so he was in need of extra oxygen. Meanwhile, Sam was conditioned for long term getaways due to his renegade life with the Doctor. "Sam...those people! Well, I mean, they weren't people! Not normal ones, anyway! What in the name of sanity is going on?"

"You should've listened to Martha and me, Doctor," said Sam. "Your dreams, about things being after you-those are the things! They're real, and we're all in great danger! Especially you!"

"Even if I believed that...even if it were true...why do you want so badly to help me?" John asked. "And why are you in my dreams? And why is it that when I kiss Nurse Redfern, all I can feel is...is..."

Sam stopped. He slowly turned around to look at the would-be-schoolteacher. The night around them was quiet except the lulled chirping of crickets in the woods and their combined panting as they respectively caught their breath. They had lost the Family, apparently. "What?"

John stared back at him, fearfully, hunched over slightly, nursing a stitch in his side from the mad dashing.

"Tell me what you feel, John Smith," said Sam, stepping toward him, to where there was only two or three inches between them.

John cast his eyes downward. "It's wrong. It's a sin, Tyler, I-"

"Say my name," whispered Sam, putting a finger under the Doctor's chin, making him look him in the eyes.

John licked his lips. His voice was barely above his breath, but Sam heard it.

"Sam."

Sam closed his eyes. He leaned forward and pressed his lips to John's, slightly shocked at first at the difference. The Doctor's alien lips were usually cool, but John's were human and warm. He smelled the same, like honey, and time, but that wonderful spark of electricity, of light, of life, wasn't there. It wasn't the Doctor. But it was enough.

John made a noise in the back of his throat, of confusion and self-loathing and contentment and desperation, all at the same time. Sam deepened the kiss, sliding his hand up John's coat and into his hair, anachronistically spiked up with gel. Sam felt John's muscles untense, as he reciprocated the kiss, bringing his arms to hang on Sam's waist and cup his back. Then Sam pulled away.

"Why am I feeling all these things?" John asked, his puppy eyes crinkled with sadness. "I hardly know you. And you're a...a man."

"I know that from your point of view, it doesn't make any sense," said Sam, unable to resist from petting his Time Lord's soft brown hair. "But soon-hopefully-you'll understand everything that's going on."

"How do you know that?" whispered John desperately. Then he straightened. "This has to do with the Doctor. The Time Lord. They kept calling me that. How could they know about my dreams?"

Sam exhaled. "I can't explain it at the moment. Your little human brain can't even imagine it right now. But just know that...the Doctor. He's real. And..." Sam took in a hiccupy breath. "I love him. He's...he's like a force of nature. He's like fire and ice and rage. He's like the night and the storm at the heart of the sun. He's ancient and forever. He burns at the center of time and he sees the turn of the universe..." Sam smiled ruefully. "And he's wonderful. And I love him more than I can possibly say, and I hope to God you don't remember me saying all this when you wake up."

"I think I love you, Sam Tyler," said John, trembling. "And I want to be this Doctor person, if I am him. I want to be him if he's who you love."

"And you will, John Smith, you will be him. Soon, I hope," said Sam. "But for now, you have to be this. Until the threat is gone."

John straightened up. "Well then, what are we waiting for? Come on!"

"What? John? Where are we going?" said Sam, as John clutched his hand and pulled him in the direction of the academy.

"To get help!"

Once inside the school, John grabbed a bell and began ringing it loudly. The clanging echoed throughout the school. "What are you doing?" Sam inquired.

"Maybe one man can't fight them, but this school teaches us to stand together!" said John zealously. "Take arms! Take arms!"

Sam realized with horror what the human wanted to do.

One, don't let me hurt anyone. We can't have that, but you know what humans are like...

"You can't do that!" Sam shouted at him as the students and staff began to rouse themselves from their beds and rally out in the hallways.

"You want me to fight, don't you?" said John. "Take arms! Take arms!"

"I say, sir, what's the matter?" said one student sleepily as he came down the stairs.

"Enemy at the door, Hutchinson, enemy at the door. Take arms!"

Sam watched in horror as his Doctor organized troops for battle.

"I've got to find that watch," he whispered.


As the schoolboys assembled downstairs, preparing for the fight, Sam found Martha and Joan upstairs, tucked away safely in Smith's study. "Oh, bloody hell, there you are!" gasped Martha in relief, pulling him into a tight hug. "I was so scared that the Family-"

"It's okay, I'm fine. But it's the Doctor, Martha, he's organizing the children to fight the Family!"

Martha looked at him, aghast. "No, he can't! We've got to stop him."

"I tried, but he's a thickheaded human with thickheaded ideals. He won't listen to me!"

"Will someone please explain to me what on God's green earth is happening?" Joan exclaimed. "All your talk of time machines and travelers from other worlds and...and pocket watches! This is madness!"

"Yep. And it's happening right outside your front door, Matron," said Sam.

She looked at him hawkishly, then at Martha. "Tell me. In this fairy tale, who are the two of you?"

Martha looked Sam, then back at the 1914 woman. "Just his friends," she replied.

"And human, I take it?"

"Human as they come," said Sam. "The Doctor rescued me from these plastic creatures. Well, I rescued him too. We rescued each other. And I've traveled with him ever since."

"The Doctor found me when I got stranded on the moon," said Martha. "The whole entire hospital I was interning at was just transported there. I'm training to be a doctor, you know. Not an alien doctor, a proper doctor. A doctor of medicine."

Joan laughed derisively. "Well that certainly is nonsense. Women might train to be doctors, but hardly a skivvy and hardly one of your color."

Sam's jaw dropped. Martha's eyebrows shot up as she glared at the nurse. "Oh, do you think?" she said, her voice suddenly poisonous.

"Oh, no, she didn't," said Sam.

Martha held up the back of her hand and jabbed the index finger of the other at each section. "Bones of the hand. Carpal bones, proximal row: scaphoid, lunate, triquetral, pisiform. Distal row: trapezium, trapezoid, capitate, hamate. Then the metacarpal bones extending in three distinct phalanges: proximal, middle, distal."

Sam erupted in rapid applause. "Well said, old girl!"

"You read that in a book," said Joan, embarrassed.

"Yes, to pass my exams!" Martha said, smiling, proud of herself. "Can't you see this is true?"

Joan turned for the door. "I must go," she said.

"If we find that watch, then we can stop them," Martha said, stopping her.

Joan turned back to look at her and Sam. "Those boys are going to fight. I might not be a doctor, but I'm still their nurse. They need me." Then she rushed out the door.

"It's alright, Martha," said Sam, coming up behind her and comfortingly putting his arm around her shoulders. "We can find it ourselves."

But they searched and scoured the Doctor's study, but it was nowhere to be found. Martha gave a short scream of frustration and sent some pieces of parchment flying off John Smith's desk.

"It's no use, Martha," said Sam. "I dropped it in the garden, I know I did. Or somewhere along the way to the dance hall. This is all my fault."

"There's no time for assigning blame," said Martha. "We have to get that watch!"

"Alright," said Sam. "You stay here. I'll search the grounds."

"You're not going out there by yourself," protested Martha, grabbing her coat and throwing it on.

"Martha, you can't go out there, there's a war going on outside!" said Sam.

"So what?" said Martha. "I can take care of myself just as well as you can, Sam Tyler. Besides..." She smiled, chortling shortly. "I blend in in the dark better."

Sam couldn't help but laugh at that, despite the circumstances. "Martha Jones, you are a marvel. Never forget that."

They were going down the stairs when Sam felt it. Again. That same sensation he'd felt in the dance hall. He had a vision of the Doctor, drenched and righteously furious, standing in the midst of a water and firestorm. It was the H.C. Clements building, from when the Doctor had killed the Empress of the Racnoss. "Martha, someone's opening the watch again!"

"What are you talking about?" Martha asked.

"Don't ask me how I know, I just do. The point is, someone has the watch!"

Martha looked aghast. "What if it's the Family?!" she gasped.

"No," said Sam. "If it was them, we'd already know. We'd be dead."

"Well maybe it's the Doctor then," Martha reasoned hopefully.

"There's a function on that watch designed specifically to make him not notice it, unless you showed or gave it to him directly. No, it's...it's someone who doesn't understand how to use the watch. Whoever it is, we have to find them. Come on!" Sam rushed down the stairs, Martha following close behind.

Sam and Martha came out of the school just in time to find the Sister, the little girl with the pink bow and the red balloon, confronting the soldiers. "Mister Rocastle! Please, don't go near her," said Martha shouted to the headmaster, who was beckoning for the girl to come with him.

"You were told to be quiet," ordered Rocastle, then added to Sam, "and you, Mister Tyler, where have you been, leaving the fight to these young men? Coward."

"Just listen to us. She's part of it. Smith, tell him," said Sam.

The Doctor swallowed. "She was-she was with-with Baines in the village," he stammered.

The headmaster rolled his eyes. "Mister Smith, I've seen many strange sights this night, but there is no cause on God's Earth that would allow me to see this child in the field of battle, sir. Come with me."

The little girl sized him up. "You're funny," she said.

"That's right. Now take my hand," said Rocastle impatiently.

"So funny." The girl produced a ray gun and vaporized the headmaster, turning him to green dust. She looked at all the boys, daringly. "Now who's going to shoot me? Any of you, really?!" she sneered.

John swallowed. "Put down your guns," he ordered.

"But sir, the Headmaster-" Hutchinson piped up.

"I'll not see this happen. Not anymore. You will retreat in an orderly fashion back through the school. Hutchinson, lead the way."

"But sir-"

"I said, lead the way." There was a finality to the human's voice. Sam couldn't help but smile. His Doctor was still in there somewhere.

At that moment, Baines slinked in, flanked by Jenny. "Well, go on, then. Run!" he roared, firing his gun.

"Come on!" cried Martha, fleeing.

"John!" Sam and John's hands met and linked together, and they ran into the building.

"Reanimate!" ordered Baines, and the scarecrow soldiers, which the boys had shot down, came back online, stalking them through the premises.

"Sam, we've got to get these boys out of here!" John called to him over the hubbub.

"I agree, and Martha and Joan as well," Sam said. "Looks like it's just you and me, John."

John smiled a little. "Just like old times."

Sam smiled back and nodded. "Just like old times."

John grabbed Sam's waistcoat and pulled him in for a kiss. But it was cut short at the sound of laser fire, and they were forced to scurry off.


They were getting the women and children out, when all of a sudden, Sam felt the essence of the Time Lord echo through his mind. Lord of Time, it roared.

John looked at Sam. "Sam, did you hear-"

"Yes!" said Sam. "You felt it too."

"I did," said John. "Is it-is it him? The Doctor?"

"Yes," said Sam. "It came from upstairs! Follow me!" He turned for the door, but found a mass of scarecrows standing in wait. Sam swiftly slammed it shut. "Not that way," he exclaimed, turning to run the other direction, John in tow.

The two of them crept to the edge of the woods next to the school. They peeped out from behind the trees. The Family was standing in front of the school, grouped around a familiar blue box.

"No," gasped Sam. "How did they find it?"

"Come back, Doctor!" called Mr. Clark. "Come home! Come and claim your prize."

"Out you come, Doctor. There's a good boy. Come to the Family," taunted Baines.

"Time to end it now!" added Jenny.

"You recognize it, don't you?" Sam whispered to John.

John swallowed nervously. "I've never seen it in my life."

"I'm sorry, John, but human you is not a good liar. You wrote about it. The blue box. You dreamt of a blue box," Sam insisted.

"I'm not..." John choked, staring from Sam to the TARDIS. "I'm John Smith," he said, his voice breaking. "That's all I want to be. John Smith, with his life, and his job..." John looked at Sam in desperation. "...and his love. Why can't I be John Smith? Isn't he a good man?" John let out a shaky puff of breath. "Isn't he enough for you?" he whispered.

"Of course he is, don't be ridiculous," Sam said, hugging him tightly.

"Then why can't I stay?" John sobbed.

"John...you're a good man. A bit of a prick sometimes, but a good man nonetheless," said Sam, consoling stroking his fingers through the human's brown hair. "But we need the Doctor," he breathed in his ear.

John pulled away from him. "What am I, then?" he asked, standing up and backing away.

"John..." said Sam, reaching out for him.

"Nothing," said John bleakly. "I'm just a story." He turned tail and ran off into the trees and the dark.

"John!" Sam whispered urgently after him. But the human was gone.

Sam sighed in frustration and turned around. To his surprise, there was a young boy standing right in front of him.

"Latimer," stuttered Sam, recognizing him as a student from Farringham. "You're supposed to be down in the village with Matron and Miss Jones."

"I know, sir, I just..." Latimer blinked his large brown eyes. He reached into the pocket of his uniform trousers...

...and pulled out the watch.

Sam took it in disbelief from his outstretched hand. "Where did you find this?" he asked.

"On the grounds," said Latimer. "It's Mister Smith's, isn't it? It...it called out to me. It tells me things."

"What things?" Sam asked, dropping down on one knee to be able to look the boy in the eye.

Latimer licked his lips worrisomely. "A war. Involving the whole wide world. I'm in it. All taking place in a year's time."

"World War One," Sam realized. "1914."

"So it's true, then," said Latimer.

Sam looked at the boy. God, he couldn't be more than 14. Sam nodded gravely. "Yes."

"Can the Doctor help us?" Latimer asked.

"How do you know the Doctor?" Sam asked him.

"The watch. It showed me him. He's so terrible...and so wonderful too. And you. You're his friend, aren't you?"

"Yes. I am," said Sam.

"The Doctor can save us," said Latimer, backing away. "You have to find him. You have to give it to him, so he can save us."

Sam stood up. "I will. I promise."

Latimer nodded, turned, and fled into the woods, toward the village.

Sam looked back at the direction John Smith had ran. Then he took off after his Time Lord.

Chapter Text

Sam found John hiding in a small cabin in the woods. "Doctor?" said Sam tenderly.

John was sitting on a hassock, hugging himself against the cool November night, shuddering in the dark. "Please leave me alone, Tyler," the skinny man whispered hoarsely.

Sam sat beside him on the edge of the hassock. "Now why would I do that?" he whispered.

John looked at him, fear and hopelessness reflecting in his big brown eyes. "Maybe I should just go to them. Turn myself in-before anyone else gets hurt."

"Doctor, you do that, and they've won," Sam stressed.

"Then what can we do?" John asked. "You're his...friend. Can't you help?"

Sam shook his head. "I'm just one man. I'm not important."

"You are to him."

Sam smiled sadly. "Maybe...but I am so small, so insignificant...compared to him. He's nearly a thousand years old. There've been so many before that have traveled with him, and there'll be many more after I'm gone. It's lonely for him, I imagine-watching the universe turn to dust. No wonder he never stops running."

"Sam," whimpered John quietly. "I don't want to be lonely. I just want to...be. I want...to live in a nice little house, and grow vegetables in the garden, and paint pictures, and take long walks on Sundays...and I want you." He looked down, blushing.

Sam sighed and gently kissed his temple. "John, believe me, if I could live a conventional life with you...it would be the happy ending I never expected. But that's our lives. It's a fantasy, John. You and I...can never be normal."

"Why?" said John, looking up to stare at him dryly. "Because I'm an alien, or because we're both blokes?

Sam smiled wryly back. "Yes."

John gave a hiccupy laugh, in spite of himself. He leaned forward and kissed Sam softly. Sam reciprocated the kiss, cupping the other man's bony cheek with the palm of his hand, drinking in his warm, soft lips.

But their kiss was interrupted by a slight shuddering of the whole cabin. "What's that?" said John.

Another shudder, and an orange flash of light coming from the window. Sam and John arose from the hassock and peered out.

In the distance, brilliant orange fireballs was arcing across the sky, coming to crash down on the tiny town on the horizon. "They're bombing the village," gasped John.

"Martha, Joan, the children," said Sam in horror. He frantically reached into his pocket and pulled out the watch. "Here," he said, holding it out to the other man. "Take it."

John backed away. "No. No, I-I can't."

"Doctor, you're our only hope. It's you they want."

"Stop calling me Doctor!" exclaimed John in anguish. "I-I could never be him. I'm human, and there is nothing special about me!"

Something about those specific words registered with Sam subconsciously, and the drumbeat in the back of his mind grew just a tad bit louder for a moment. "Doc-John. Please. Just..." Sam took John's hand and laid it on top of the watch in his. "Just listen to it."

Closer...closer, little man, the watch beckoned. "It's like he's...sleeping," struggled John, his eyes closed intently, focusing on it.

"You can hear the Doctor?" said Sam.

"Yes. He's...waiting," said John, opening his eyes. "Waiting to awaken." Waken me, little man.

"Then do it," said Sam, his voice breaking with hope. "All you have to do is open the watch, and he's back."

John's eyes darted around, desperately. "What if...what if I just gave them this?" said John, holding out the watch. "They would have what they want. They could leave."

Sam shook his head. "It doesn't work like that." He reached inside his waistcoat and pulled out John Smith's Journal Of Impossible Things. "If those creatures got ahold of the Time Lord within, they would live forever. They would breed and conquer. They would bring destruction over the entire cosmos. It's all right here-in your handwriting."

John began to cry. "You knew all along. Why did you never say anything?"

"What could I have said?" Sam choked, and he realized he was crying too. "Don't you realize how hard this is for me? I finally, finally, have a version of you that can love me back, can grow old with me and be with me. But it's not right for me to keep you. The universe needs the Doctor...we don't have any other choice."

Crying harder, John pressed forward and kissed Sam desperately, his lips salty and full of need. Sam kissed him back just as hard, releasing his inner frustration, his rage, his sorrow. Oh, it wasn't fair. Sam just wanted to keep this Doctor forever, so that they could be the same, so they could belong to each other for as long as they both lived.

Suddenly, the men gasped simultaneously as images flowed from the watch to their minds' eyes. Sam and John were standing in a church, just having gotten done getting married, and sharing their first kiss as man and husband. Then they were both watching over their small firstborn daughter, holding her, raising her together. The two men and their children walking into town, going to market. Then, an elderly John, lying on his death bed, was holding the hand of his devoted partner. "The children send their love. And the grandchildren," said Sam.

"And they're safe?" John asked.

"Yes. All of them."

"Then it is done." John's voice was soft, so weak, so tired. "You have been the best of my life, Sam Tyler. My love. Thank you."

The elderly Sam leaned over and kissed his wrinkled brow. "I love you, John Smith. It has been wonderful. Thank you."

John smiled sleepily at his beloved husband and slowly shut his eyes.

John's eyes flew open. "Did you see?" he whispered sharply.

Sam nodded tearfully. "Yes," he spoke softly. "But it's all made up. It's not real."

Tears afresh sprang to the human's eyes as he squeezed them shut. "I love you," he wept.

"And I love you too," said Sam, pressing his forehead to the other man's, stroking his hair. "And it would have been wonderful. I'm so sorry."

They stood together for a few more minutes, crying and holding each other, as the fireballs continued to fly outside. Then, John opened his eyes, a hardness set to them. He took the watch from Sam's hand. "Well then," he whispered, staring at it. "Tis time to do it."


The Time Lord returned. And he punished those who had hunted him, had killed, had terrorized, had ruined the happiness of his human self and so many others. He didn't kill them, no. He did something worse. He gave them exactly what they had wanted: to live forever. Only to exist in the worst way possible.

And he never even raised his voice.


Sam pulled on his hoodie over his regular, 21st century clothes and stared at himself in the mirror. Out of the corner of his eyes, he saw a little flash of movement. Sam shuddered and hurriedly turned away from his reflection.

Sam headed down the corridor and into the console room. Martha was already aboard and sleeping in her room, exhausted from the long night of caring for the schoolboys. All that was missing was their extraterrestrial pilot, who was just entering the TARDIS now. He had changed out of his Edwardian camouflage, and was wearing his normal brown pinstriped suit and long brown coat again. His shoulders, Converse, and spiky hair was slightly damp from the rain that fell outside.

"Hey," said Sam tentatively as the Time Lord firmly closed the door of the TARDIS behind himself.

The Doctor turned and looked at him, and Sam recognized the oldness that reappeared behind those brown cow eyes once more. "Hey," said the Doctor quietly.

"So...tie up the loose ends and all that?" asked Sam, coming down the stairs and standing at the bottom as the Doctor solemnly flicked switches and pulled levers on the console, sending them into the Vortex.

"Yeah." The Doctor's voice was hollow-sounding, but then sort of solidified. "Time we moved on."

"I agree," said Sam. "Well...good to have you back, Doctor." He awkwardly nodded and turned to go back up the stairs.

"Sam." The Doctor's voice stopped Sam dead in his tracks. "I think you should know...I remember being John Smith."

"Oh?" said Sam nonchalantly, pivoting around on one heel. His heart was suddenly beating hard in his chest.

"Yes," said the Doctor. "I remember all of it."

"All of it, huh," gulped Sam. They stared at each other for a good long while.

Then the Doctor smiled.

In three long strides, he was across the console room and tipping Sam's face up to kiss him. Sam inhaled with surprise and kissed the Time Lord back. The Doctor chuckled warmly into the kiss, winding his stringy arms around the shorter man's torso, pulling him close. Their three hearts beat against each other in perfect synchronicity.

Sam's cheeks were burning with delighted embarrassment. "I hate you. Idiot," he murmured against the Time Lord's lips.

"Doesn't feel that way to me," the Doctor smirked. Sam blushed even more, and kissed the Time Lord harder to shut him up.

Chapter Text

One average day in London…

The Doctor, Sam, and Martha climbed out of a taxi they had taken from Wester Drumlins and began looking up and down the street. "This way, I think," said Martha, getting ready to take off. She was toting a quiver of arrows, and the Doctor had a bow strapped across his chest.

"Oi, you 'aven't paid yer fare!" the cabbie hollered at them.

Sam tossed him some bills. "Keep the change, mate."

Suddenly, a blonde woman came running out of a store at them, a large blue folder in her hand. "Doctor, Doctor, Doctor!" she cried.

"Hello, sorry, bit of a rush," said the Doctor distractedly to her. "There's sort of a thing happening. Fairly important we stop it."

"My God, it's you. It really is you," said the woman breathlessly. The Doctor stared at her in confusion. "Oh, you don't remember me, do you?"

"Doctor, we haven't have time for this. The migration's started," said Martha impatiently.

"Look, sorry, I've got a bit of a complex life," the Doctor apologized. "Things don't always happen to me in quite the right order. Gets a bit confusing at times, especially at weddings. I'm rubbish at weddings, especially my own."

"Wait. What wedding?" said Sam, glaring at the Doctor.

"Oh, my God, of course. You're a time traveler," the woman realized. "It hasn't happened to you yet. None of it. It's still in your future."

"What hasn't happened?" said the Doctor.

"Doctor, please. Twenty minutes to Redd hatching!" said Martha.

"It was me. Oh, for God's sake, it was me all along. You got it all from me," said the woman, shaking her head.

"Got what?" asked the Doctor.

The woman cleared her throat. "Okay, listen. One day you're going to get stuck in 1969. Make sure you've got this with you." She handed the Doctor the envelope. "You're going to need it."

"Doctor!" Martha shouted.

"Yeah, listen, listen, got to dash. Things happening. Well, four things. Well, four things and a lizard."

"Okay. No worries. On you go. See you around some day," said the woman, turning to go back into her store.

"What was your name?" the Doctor called after her.

The woman looked over her shoulder. "Sally Sparrow," she said.

"Good to meet you, Sally Sparrow." The Doctor smiled at her.

Suddenly, a tall blonde man carrying a carton of milk came up next to Sally. He caught sight of the Doctor-and Sam-and gawked at them, his eyes nearly bulging out of their sockets.

Sally smiled and took the man's hand. "Goodbye, Doctor." She pulled the man into the video store and shut the door.

"Weird," said Sam. "This happen to you often?"

"Sort of," said the Doctor. "Anyway…off we go!" Sam laughed as the Doctor grabbed his hand and took off running down the street-just like always.

Except now…the Doctor and Sam were truly together.


They tracked the Redd, a specimen from a semi-sentient species from the planet of Jukogreem, to a large cathedral downtown. It had apparently drifted in through the Cardiff Riff, and had settled in London. Luckily, the Redd have a natural psychic camouflage to them that makes them invisible to all except those who are looking to find them. It was egg-laying season for this particular creature, and according to the Doctor, newly hatched Redd were highly radioactive, and would be a danger to the patrons of London, and the world. But, the Doctor explained, if the Redd was pierced precisely in its laginal lobe, by, say, a bow and arrow, the offspring, their eggs still tethered to their layer via the equivalent of an umbilical cord, would hatch harmlessly, and the Doctor could transport the Redd and its babies back to Jukogreem in the TARDIS.

"But Doctor, won't shooting the Redd in the whatsit hurt it?" Sam asked.

"Nah, it's perfectly harmless. The Redd regenerate cells fast. It'll be like get a shot at the hospital. Now…" The Doctor pointed down the hall. "Sam, you go thataway and look for the Redd. Holler if you see it. Martha and I will look down the other way."

"Aye aye, Doctor," said Sam, following the alien's orders and heading away.

After about fifteen minutes of walking through the dark, creepy cathedral, Sam still hadn't located the beast. "Bloody hell," he muttered to himself. "They've probably already located the bloody thing and taken care of it. Guess I'll go back."

But when Sam turned around, he was suddenly nose-to-nose with a giant chunk of rock. "Ah!" Sam cried in surprise. Then he curiously shined the light on the obstruction.

It was of an angel crying. "That's odd. That wasn't there before," said Sam. He stared and stared at the statue, expecting it to move, but it didn't.

Then…he blinked.


Suddenly, Sam heard a loud car horn. He turned and saw two very bright and very close headlights barreling straight for him. Sam yelped as something tugged on his wrist and pulled him out of the way of the speeding car just in time.

"Watch where yer goin', you crazy kid!" yelled the driver out of his window. Sam noticed the car was old of make, late sixties or early seventies, maybe.

Sam turned to find the Doctor's bony fingers curled around his wrist. "Told you they'd get him too," said Martha, coming up behind him as the Doctor pulled Sam into a hug.

"I wish they hadn't…but at least we're all together," said the Doctor.

"Er…what's going on?" said Sam. "Where's the church?"

"In the future. It probably hasn't been built yet, or they're just building it now."

"Wait, are you saying we've time traveled? How? We're not in the TARDIS," said Sam.

"It was the angels," said Martha. "The statues."

"Hey, I saw a statue of an angel. It sort of…snuck up on me. Sounds kinda weird, though, right?"

"Not weird at all," said the Doctor. "It happened to us too. The Angels knew we'd be coming. They were waiting for us. It was an ambush."

"Er…what?" said Sam.

"It's 1969, Sam. Just like that girl said it would be." The Doctor sighed and pulled the blue folder Sally Sparrow had given him from an inner flap of his coat. "Sam…we're in trouble."


The Doctor, Sam, and Martha went through the folder and learned all about the Weeping Angels and Sally Sparrow and the DVDs. They learned that they would have to find Billy Shipton, record their message, and leave it for Sally to find in the future, so she could send the TARDIS back to them. When Sam asked the Doctor how exactly it was all going to fall into place, the Doctor replied with a vague, "Wibbly wobbly, timey wimey…"

But with no TARDIS, the time travelers were stuck in one place, for once. They checked into a chintzy motel to spend the night in, until they could achieve more suitable accommodations. Money was a bit of a problem, but the Doctor managed to convince the manager with his psychic paper that he was the Earl of Hampshire, and the motel eagerly put them up.

The Doctor came inside his and Sam's room and locked the door. "Martha's settled in. She's a bit paranoid about bedbugs, but I convinced her bedbugs didn't exist till the mid-seventies."

"Thanks for that," grimaced Sam. "Well, is she okay?"

"Yes. Not happy about being stuck, but…yes. She'll be fine."

"Good," said Sam.

The Doctor came to his side. "And what about you, Sam Tyler? Are you okay?"

"Well, I'm stuck in 1969, with killer statues on my tail." Sam sighed. The Doctor took his hand and kissed his temple. Sam looked up at him and smiled. "I'm just perfect." He kissed him.

"Good," said the Doctor, kissing him back. Sam drew his hands up the Doctor's back, while the Doctor clutched Sam's upper arms. The Doctor felt Sam's lips curve into a smile.

This kiss was different than the others. Not so chaste and affectionate as it was before. As they moved against each other, one of the Doctor's hands drifted up and into Sam's thick hair. Sam made a noise and pulled the Time Lord into him by the waist. Their lips parted, their breathing quickened. The passion was mounting, and they were getting steadily more urgent about the way their mouths moved together. Finally, Sam had to break away, gasping for oxygen. The Doctor chuckled shyly, cupping Sam's cheek, their foreheads and the tips of their noses brushing.

"Doctor." Sam's whisper was barely perceptible. "Take me to bed."

The Doctor pulled away slightly, his big brown eyes widening in surprise. "Really?" he asked.

Sam nodded, nervous, but sure. "Yes...make love to me. Please," he murmured.

The Doctor nodded. Then he kissed him once more, more tenderly and deep than ever before, their lips melding together like taffy, pulling and mingling and joining, over and over. Sam laughed shyly into the kiss.

The Time Lord and the human shared unending kisses like this for the longest time, till the Doctor felt Sam’s lips part against his, the warm tip of his tongue poking out to touch the Doctor’s mouth curiously. The Doctor opened his mouth slightly and invited the slide of his tongue between his lips. He was taking it incredibly slow, letting Sam lead.

The kiss came steadily became more and more heated, more invasive and deep, till Sam was gasping for breath. “Sorry,” he whispered embarrassedly. “I…I don’t have that...bypass thingie-”

“Sam, it’s fine,” the Doctor laughed. “I understand.”

Sam closed his eyes as the Doctor kissed his forehead, his cheeks, and his lips again. He opened his mouth eagerly, and the Doctor slipped his tongue inside. Sam may or may not have made a little moan in the back of his throat.

The Doctor carefully reached up and pulled the zip on Sam’s hoodie, coaxing it off of his shoulders. Sam followed his example and unbuttoned the Doctor’s suit jacket. Still deeply submerged in kissing, they made their way to the bed, bouncing slightly on the mattress as they both fell down. The men both laughed, looking deeply into each other’s eyes.

“Don’t be nervous,” the Doctor whispered tenderly.

“I’m not,” said Sam.

The Doctor smiled consolingly at him. “Yes you are. Everyone is, first time.”

Sam rolled his eyes. “Y’know, I’m not exactly a virgin. I’ve had sex with plenty of women.”

“Yes, but not with a man. Or me,” said the Doctor.

Sam shrugged nonchalantly, but the Doctor could tell he still had a few trepidations. “I’ve got you,” said the Doctor, kissing him. “I promise.”

Sam was lying on his back and the Doctor was on top of his body. He leaned down and pressed his lips to the other man’s warm neck, leaving a trail of kisses all down his throat. “Mm,” grunted Sam. He found that his neck was rather sensitive. The Doctor chuckled deeply, nipping lightly as his collarbone. Sam actually made a noise of surprise at that.

Sam felt the Doctor’s cool fingers slip under the hem of his Driveshaft t-shirt and start to pull it up his torso. Sam propped himself up a bit and lifted his arms to accentuate the action. The Doctor looked down at his bare chest. “Not bad,” he commented.

“Thank you,” said Sam. Oh, for God’s sake, was he blushing?! “I try to work out and-and…eat protein and stuff.”

The Doctor laughed at that, and Sam felt his ears, cheeks, and neck heat up even more. “I don’t know why I said that,” he muttered, laughing, flustered.

The Doctor kissed his lips chastely. “You’re adorable. Actually…you’re quite beautiful, Sam Tyler.”

Sam smiled bashfully. “Well let’s get a look at you, huh?”

“You’ve seen me!” complained the Doctor, loosening his tie so Sam could undo the buttons of his blue shirt.

“So I did. It was a nice view too,” said Sam, pulling down the Doctor down so he could kiss him while he undressed him. “You know, Doctor, there’s something I’ve always wondered…are Time Lords ticklish?”

The Doctor’s eyes widened in fear. “Why…why no, actually, it’s not part of our anatomy,” he lied nervously.

“Oh, really?” said Sam, raising a wicked eyebrow. “So it wouldn’t affect you if I did, say…this?”

“Oh, no, no really, Sam, don’t-ahahahahahahahaha!” the Doctor burst out laughing as Sam’s fingers danced up his flanks, sparking sensitive nerves. He fell backward, trying uselessly to shield himself from Sam’s tortuous hands. Sam crawled atop him, straddling his waist, providing all the better angle to tickle the Time Lord. “No, no, please-ahahahahaha-stop! Ahahahaha! Noahahahahaha!” the Doctor cried pitifully.

“Oh, so Time Lords aren’t ticklish?” cackled Sam cruelly as he continued his onslaught of torment.

“No we’re noahahahahahahaha-we’re not-oh please, Sam, please, stop! AHAHAHAHAHA!”

Sam gave in and stopped the tickling to drop down and give the Doctor a good strong kiss. "I love you," he whispered.

The Doctor stared into his eyes, smiling contentedly. He stroked his cheek. "Sam," he uttered, and it was all he had to say.


Their limbs entwined with the thin motel sheets, the two lay together, Sam with his head on the Doctor's hearts, staring outside at the rain, the Doctor combing his fingers through Sam's untamable hair. Both of them were still and content, just lying there, skin pressed skin, listening to the pit-pat-pit-pat of the water drops splatting against the window pane and each other's breathing.

"I love you," said Sam quietly.

"I love you too," the Doctor said back. He smiled to himself. "Sam Tyler: the little human that stole my hearts."

Sam shifted until he and the Doctor were lying on their sides, facing each other. "Blimey, I'm sore. Is it gonna be like this every time?"

"Oh, not every time," said the Doctor. He grinned evilly. "Just when you're a delicate virgin."

"Oi!"

"Besides, I'm not the one who kept whimpering, 'more, please, harder!'"

"I was not whimpering," Sam informed him with a telling blush.

"Well what would you call this noise?" The Doctor made some high pitched sounds from the back of his throat, sounding like a hungry puppy, obviously mocking Sam.

"I hate you," tsked Sam, then he laughed and settled into the Doctor's arms. "Not really."

"Sam," murmured the Doctor. "Sing something for me."

"Really?" Sam was slightly surprised. He never really sang in Driveshaft, just back up vocals, but his voice was decent.

"Really," said the Doctor. "But if you're too tired, I'd understand-"

"No, no, I want to," said Sam quickly. "What do you want me to sing?"

"Anything." The Doctor's voice was husky with affection and sleep. "I don't care. Just sing something to me."

"Alright." Sam got an idea. He cleared his throat nervously. Then he began to sing:

I could stay awake just to hear you breathing
Watch you smile while you are sleeping
While you're far away and dreaming
I could spend my life in this sweet surrender
I could stay lost in this moment forever
Every moment spent with you is a moment I treasure

Don't want to close my eyes
I don't want to fall asleep
'Cause I'd miss you baby
And I don't want to miss a thing
'Cause even when I dream of you
The sweetest dream would never do
I'd still miss you baby
And I don't want to miss a thing

The Doctor was reveling in the sound of his singing. Sam let it encourage him and continued.

Lying close to you feeling your heart beating
And I'm wondering what you're dreaming
Wondering if it's me you're seeing
And then I kiss your eyes
And thank God we're together
I just wanna stay with you in this moment I'll treasure
Forever and ever

I don't want to close my eyes
I don't want to fall asleep
'Cause I'd miss you baby
And I don't want to miss a thing
'Cause even when I dream of you
The sweetest dream would never do
I'd still miss you baby
And I don't want to miss a thing

The desire to close his eyes and let sleep envelope him, as the Doctor's arms were enveloping him, was growing stronger and stronger, but Sam was determined to finish the song.

I don't want to miss one smile
I don't want to miss one kiss
I just want to be with you
Right here with you, just like this
I just want to hold you close
Feel your heart so close to mine
And just stay here in this moment
For all the rest of time...

Sam, too drowsy to keep his eyes open another minute, succumb to slumber. The Doctor chuckled fondly and pulled him closer, finishing the song himself.

Don't want to close my eyes
I don't want to fall asleep
'Cause I'd miss you baby
And I don't want to miss a thing
'Cause even when I dream of you
The sweetest dream will never do
I'd still miss you baby
And I don't want to miss a thing.

Then the Doctor shut his eyes and joined his lover in dreaming. The Time Lord and his human slept peacefully, not knowing how very, very soon their short time together was going to end.

Chapter Text

"Morning, all," said Sam, practically bouncing down the stairs. He danced over to the console, whistling cheerfully. "Isn't this a gorgeous day? Absolutely brilliant. An A plus day. The universe gets a gold star for today."

Smells seemed sweeter, colors were brighter, music sounded better. Was this what love was?

"Glad you're in such a good mood, lover," said the Doctor, smirking, as Sam sauntered over to him. The Doctor's hands settled on Sam's hips and Sam's arm twined around his scrawny neck as they leaned toward each other for a kiss.

On the other side of the console, Martha rolled her eyes fondly. "Oi. Get a room."

"We're in a room," said the boys at the same time, then laughed, completely wrapped up in each other.

Martha shook her head at them. "Where are we off to today?" she asked.

"Why not Italy?" suggested Sam. "Rome, Verona, Venice. We could go gondola-ing."

"That's not a word," teased the Doctor.

"Yeah, and 'wibbly wobbly timey wimey' is?" Sam shot back, bumping his shoulder affectionately.

"You're right. That's four words." The Doctor grinned like the cheeky bastard he was, and Sam had to laugh.

Martha cleared her throat. "Hello? Remember me? I'm that medical student you picked up that one time?"

"Oh, Martha, come on, it's the honeymoon stage!" said the Doctor cheerfully, winding his arms around Sam's torso, holding him from behind.

"I asked you a question," said Martha.

"Uh…what was it again?"

"Where are we going," prompted Sam.

"Ah! Right!" The Doctor regretfully pulled away from his lover to type in something on the controls. The TARDIS landed with a mechanic wheeze and a thump. "Cardiff!" the Doctor announced, checking the coordinates.

"Cardiff?!" squawked Martha.

"Not very sexy," agreed Sam.

"Ah! But the thing about Cardiff is, it's built on a rift in time and space, just like California on the San Andreas fault," the Doctor explained to Martha, pacing around the console and pulling levers and such as he spoke. "But the rift bleeds energy. Every now and then, I need to open up the engines, soak up the energy, and use it as fuel."

"So it's a pit stop," laughed Martha.

"Exactly, Pidge!" cheered Sam.

"Should only take 20 seconds," the Doctor added.

"Wait a minute," said Martha suspiciously. "They had an earthquake in Cardiff a couple years ago-was that you?"

The Doctor and Sam grinned at each other. "Bit of trouble with the Slitheen, a long time ago," the Doctor said. "Lifetimes. I was a different man back then."

"Ya know," said Sam, leaning against the edge of the console. "Why can't we refuel somewhere more interesting? I mean, what is there in Cardiff exactly? The BBC filming studios?-hey!" As Sam's hand brushed over something on the controls, the TARDIS gave a loud and sharp metallic screech and lurched suddenly. The time travelers were forced to grab the console and hang on for dear life.

Sparks flew from the controls and the ship rattled and buffeted back and forth. "What did I do?!" Sam yelped over the cacophony.

"I don't know! You must've brushed the ship's Rassilon Imprimtur!" the Doctor said. "It doesn't normally react to human contact, but for some reason the ship's going berserk!"

"Well make it stop!" shrieked Martha.

"I can't!"

The TARDIS continued to rocket through the Vortex. "Where's it taking us?" Sam called.

"We're accelerating-into the future!" said the Doctor, looking at the scanner. "It's like it's running from something, but I can't imagine what! The year 1,000,000…5,000,000,000…5,000,000,000,000! What?!" The Doctor squinted at the screen in disbelief. "The year one hundred trillion, that's impossible!"

"Why, what happens then?!" said Martha frantically.

The Doctor's mouth moved in meaningless shapes. "We're going to the end of the universe," he said.

"Is that possible?" said Sam worryingly. "Does the universe have an end?"

"We're about to find out-hang on!" the Doctor hollered.

The TARDIS finally, finally, landed with a last vibration and a groan. "Well," said the Doctor, putting his hands in his pockets, looking at the ceiling curiously. "We've landed."

Sam swallowed. "But where? And…at what?"

"I'm not sure," said the Doctor, casting his eyes to the door. "Not even the Time Lords came this far. The answer to all those questions is out there."

Martha and Sam looked at each other uneasily, then back at the Doctor.

"We should leave," said the Doctor. "We should go, we should really, really…go."

The three nodded in agreement. Then they grinned at each other.

"Race ya outside!" exclaimed Sam, scampering for the door.

"No fair, you got a head start!" the Doctor called after him, laughing.

"Wait for me!" added Martha, tailing after them. They grabbed their respective hoodies, coats, and jackets from the hatstand and rushed outside. Or at least tried to.

But before Sam's fingers could even touch the handle of the door, it swung open.

A well built man with jet black hair and piercing blue eyes in a long, military jacket was standing outside, gazing into the TARDIS like a blind man seeing for the first time.

"Oh my God," whispered Sam.

"I knew it," said the American, his handsome face bursting into a grin. "I knew I'd find you someday."

"Jack?"

The ex-Time Agent whooped loudly and grabbed Sam into a hug. "Sam Tyler," he growled, and he cupped the other man's face and pulled him into a sucker-y kiss. "Just as sexy as I remember," Jack teased, grinning wolfishly.

"Jack! What the hell are you doing here?!" laughed Sam as Martha and the Doctor came out of the TARDIS behind him.

"Well, after Satellite Five, I had a helluva time; I was trying to find you and the Doctor, with this," said Jack, holding up his wrist, where his Vortex Manipulator was strapped to him. "I must have travelled to at least a million different locations in time and space, tracking leads to where the two of you might be, but I must have always just missed you. Finally, my Vortex Manipulator just crapped out on me and stranded me here. This is Malcassario, luckily, the home of one of the last surviving colonies of friendly humanoids in the universe."

"Jack, I'm so sorry," said Sam. "I guess we always meant to come back for you but…we must have forgotten," he said, feeling ashamed.

"I'm not so sure," said Jack, his playfully grin dissipating as he looked over at the skinny man in brown, staying silent for once.

"I'm sorry, hold on," said Martha, looking from one to the other to the other. "Do you all know each other? Is there some sort of hot guy time traveler club that you're all a part of or something?"

"Where are my manners?" Jack's trademark 500-megawatt smile returned as if by magic as he strode over to Martha to kiss her hand. "Captain Jack Harkness. And who are you?"

The usually self-composed medical student laughed flusteredly, blushing. "Martha Jones," she stammered out.

"Pleased to meet you, Martha Jones."

"Oh, don't start!" groaned the Doctor, as Sam laughed in the background.

The Captain rolled his eyes. "I was only saying hello."

"I don't mind," gushed Martha.

"None of us do," said Sam, winking at Jack.

"Oho! Well, aren't we comfortable in our own sexuality!" Jack guffawed, leaning toward the man in the hoodie flirtatiously. "So Sammy boy, did you and the Doctor finally bump uglies?"

"I don't shag and tell, Captain Innuendo Squad," said Sam smugly.

"I'm not hearing a 'no'!" sang out Jack triumphantly. "Good for you, son. It's about time."

The Doctor cleared his throat. "Alright, Jack, enough about my bedroom exploits, if you don't mind."

Jack turned to the Time Lord solemnly. "Doctor."

The Doctor nodded. "Captain."

"Good to see you," said Jack.

"And you," replied the Doctor. "Same as ever. Although…have you had work done?" he asked jokingly.

Jack looked at the tenth regeneration of the Doctor in disbelief. "You can talk."

The Doctor looked confused for a moment, then his eyebrows shot up in realization. "Oh yes, the face! Regeneration. How did you know this was me?"

"Eh, the police box kinda gives it away," said Jack.

"Also, you told him," Sam piped up. "'My bedroom exploits'. Your words."

"Ah. Yes. That too."

"I've been following you for a long time," said Jack. "You abandoned me."

"What? No, never. Jack, you've got it all wrong," said Sam, stepping in. "The Doctor, well, I'm still not exactly sure what happened on Satellite Five, but the Doctor said that you…that you wanted to stay…a-and help…and that's not what happened, was it?" he said, turning to the Doctor. "Did you really? You really just left him?"

But the Doctor couldn't answer the question, for it was cut off by a loud roar in the distance.

"Uh oh, Futurekind, right on time," said Jack.

"What are Futurekind?" said the Doctor.

Suddenly, they all looked up the hill to see a mass of strange humanoids running toward them. They were oddly dressed and marked and were carrying torches and sharp weapons. In the glint of the firelight, their sharp white teeth could be seen. "Uh oh," said Sam.

"I'm guessing they're not our welcoming party," said Martha.

"Cannibals, they live out here in the wild, preying on the idiot humans who come wandering out into the open," Jack informed them. "Kind of like us, actually."

"Right, into the TARDIS, all of you-" But before the Doctor had even opened his mouth, the gang heard that familiar wheezing sound. "Ohnonononononono!" the Doctor babbled, grabbing desperately for his dematerializing ship.

"Are you serious?!" Sam barked at the space that the TARDIS had just occupied. "That stupid old cow!"

"She sensed danger and went to the nearest safe place!" said the Doctor.

"There's a silo nearby, fenced off so the Futurekind can't get in," Jack told them hurriedly. The hunting party was getting closer and closer.

"Can we run to there from here?!" Martha exclaimed.

"We can go one better than that! Captain, your wrist!" shouted the Doctor.

Jack held out his Vortex Manipulator. The Doctor whipped out his sonic and scanned it. "It's locked onto the TARDIS's coordinates! Everyone grab onto Jack!"

Jack laughed loudly and yelled as they flashed out, "Oh, I've missed this!"

Chapter Text

Flash.

The foursome arrived in a laboratory facility, gasping and panting for breath. "Oh, uuuugh!" groaned the Doctor, shuddering. "I hate primitive time travel. It makes me feel like a cat does when it's being petted backwards."

Sam pointed to the Doctor's head. "Is it just me, or is your hair standing even more on end that usual?"

The Doctor glared at him, mussing up his hair so it lay at only partial spikiness. "Shut up."

"Chan, Captain Harkness! Are you alright, tho?" A blue, insect-like alien in a white lab coat bustled over to them, brushing the Captain's shoulders concernedly.

"Just fine, Blue, just fine," said Jack.

The alien looked wide eyed at the newcomers. "Chan, who are these people, tho?"

"Just some friends I discovered outside the gate, Chantho," Jack answered. "This is Martha Jones, Sam Tyler, and the Doctor. Everyone, meet my lab technician, Chantho."

"Hello," said Sam, always the first to be friendly, shaking Chantho's hand.

"Chan, it is a pleasure to meet you, tho."

"Erm…hiya," said Martha, unsure whether shaking hands was a proper thing to do with the unfamiliar creature.

"I'm the Doctor, nice to meet you," said the Time Lord, also shaking her hand. "And might I say, you are a beautiful specimen! What planet do you originate from?"

"Doctor, don't be rude!" Sam hissed as Chantho's cheek areas turned sort of indigo colored.

"Chan, I do not protest," Chantho smiled bashfully. "I am from Malcassairo. I am a member of the Malmooth, tho."

"Malcassairo, Jack, you mention a Malcassairo. Is that where we are now?" the Doctor asked.

"Yeah. Like I said, one of the last remaining humanoid colonies in the universe. Well, one of the last friendly ones, that is," Jack amended.

"Chan, Captain Harkness is our leader, tho," said Chantho, looking admiringly at Jack.

"She looks just like you when you look at the Doctor," Martha whispered to Sam.

"Hush," Sam replied, blushing.

"What do you mean, leader?" the Doctor inquired.

"Well, they had to put someone in charge," said the Captain. "They just so happened to pick me."

"I can understand that," said the Doctor. "They tried to elect me several times as Lord High President on Gallifrey. Bureaucratic nightmare."

One two three four. One two three four. At the mention of the Time Lord's home planet, the drums returned to Sam's head with a sharpness. Sam clenched his eyes shut and rubbed his temples. No one noticed.

"Er, Mister Harkness-" Martha began.

"Please, call me Jack," said the ex-Time Agent, grinning dazzlingly. "Or 'Captain', if you prefer."

"Stop it," scolded the Doctor.

"Jack," said Martha. "You said 'they'. Who is 'they'?"

"The rest of the colony. We're camped out here, in this base," said Jack. "We have guards outside, watching the gates, making sure the savages don't get into the compound. This is where we're building the rocket."

"What rocket?" asked Martha.

"Chan, the rocket that will take us to Utopia. Oh. Excuse me, Captain Harkness, tho," said the technician, looking ashamed.

"Chantho, how many times do I have to tell you, it's okay to speak up. You're our ticket out of here-you're the most important person in this whole place," Jack consoled the alien, whose face antennae unfurled outward, signaling her pleasure as she smiled at the compliment.

"What's Utopia?" the Doctor said to Jack.

"Well…it's a long story," said Jack. "Come with me. Let me show you the whole facility. It might be easier to understand."


Jack led them to a long hallway, where people in ragged clothes and smudged faces were grouped together, playing cards, reading, or just simply chatting to pass the time. "It's like a refugee camp," remarked Martha.

"Stinking!" said Sam, waving his hand in front of his nose. "Oh, sorry. No offense. Not you," he said to a man on the side.

"Er, yeah, sorry. Supplies are limited, so everyone gets one shower a week," said Jack.

"Don't you see that?" said the Doctor gleefully, looking merrily at all the people around them. "The ripe old smell of humans! You survived. Oh, you might have spent a million years evolving into clouds of gas…and another million as downloads…but you always revert to the same basic shape. The fundamental humans. End of the universe and here you are. Indomitable! That's the word. Indomitable! Ha!"

Sam slipped his hand into the Time Lord's and looked up at him adoringly. His adorkable, nerdy Doctor. "I love you," he said tenderly. The Doctor, smiling, kissed his forehead.

"Where are we? I mean, really," said Martha.

Jack smiled. He pointed to a door to their left. "Look through there and find out."

The Doctor tried to open it, but it was stuck. He whipped out his sonic and scanned the control panel. "Give me a hand with this," he instructed his motley crew. "It's half deadlocked."

"Oho, so the sonic's not great after all!" Sam jeered, not unkindly. "No wood, no deadlocks-it might as well be a hairpin!"

"Oi, this old boy has gotten us out of some sticky wickets!" said the Doctor defensively. "It deserves proper respect."

They managed to open the door and the Doctor made to lean out. "Let's see where we ah!" The Doctor was caught with sickly surprise as he nearly fell down a long, long way. Luckily, Sam and Jack caught the back of his coat. "Thanks," said the Doctor.

"How did you manage without me?" Jack teased.

"Easy, with me," replied Sam, grinning smugly.

"Should I get a ruler?" joked Martha.

"Don't get your tail feathers in a ruffle, Pidge," said Sam. "Just a little banter between boys."

Martha peered out and down. "Now that's what I call a rocket!"

They were standing on the precipice of the rocket's outer hull, at very nearly the tippy top of the shuttle. "They're not refugees, they're passengers," said the Doctor, looking back at the people.

"And this rocket is bound for…Utopia?" said Sam, addressing Jack. "What is that?"

"The perfect place. Hundred trillion years, the same old dream."

"The promised land," said Sam.

"That too," said the Doctor. He looked down the shaft. "I don't recognize those engines."

"Ah, before we get into that…let's go back to the lab. It's been, had to have been, a hundred years or more since we had a scientist around here, and we need all the help we can get," said Jack. "Come on."

Sam muttered to Martha, "Jack is definitely hiding something."


"Chan, you have returned so soon, tho?" said Chantho as they returned to the lab.

"Yes, um, my friend the Doctor here is going to help you with the rocket," said Jack.

"I am?" said the Doctor.

"Well yeah! Er, Chantho, show him around," Jack directed.

"Chan, of course. Please, come this way, tho," said Chantho, leading the Doctor across the room to show him some big industrial gizmo.

"Oh my God-what the hell is that?!" Martha squawked, pointing to something on the wall.

Sam turned to look, and his mouth dropped open. "I don't believe it!" he exclaimed.

"It's a hand!" Martha exclaimed, as Jack came over to them. Sitting on a shelf, in a big glass case, floating in bubbling clear liquid, was indeed, a humanoid hand.

"That's not just any hand," said Sam, grinning. "That's the Doctor's hand!"

"What?!" Martha whirled around to look at the Time Lord, who was still reviewing the machinery with Chantho. "But he's already got two hands…unless…does he have more than two?"

"No," laughed Sam. "Believe me, he's only got the two."

"Shame," snickered Jack. "That could've had possibilities."

"So what? He just, grew another one?" Martha said.

"Well…yeah," said Sam. "See, it was Christmas morning, and there was a big spaceship above London, full of aliens who wanted to capture the Earth."

"I remember that," shuddered Martha. "It was the day all those poor people came out and stood on the edge of their roofs, like they were going to jump. It was scary."

"Yeah, well, luckily, the Doctor stopped it in time-with a little help from me," added Sam, puffing up. "The Doctor had to sword fight one of the aliens for rights to the planet, and it managed to cut off his hand! But he had just regenerated and, I dunno, managed to grow a new one! Freaky, yeah?"

"Yeah. I'd definitely say so," said Martha. "But what's the hand doing here?"

"Uh, well, I found it, when I was looking for you and the Doctor," said Jack, looking at Sam. "I'd know when I was close to you, because it would bubble in his presence-just like it's doing now."

Sam looked at Jack, wrinkling his nose. "I really don't want to know what you were doing with a hand of the Doctor's, mate." Jack gave him a dirty look.

"Oi, is that my hand?" said the Doctor, coming over to them and looking at the case in fascination.

"Yeah, we were just talking about it," said Sam.

"You grew…another…hand," said Martha, completely unable to fathom it.

The Doctor waved his right hand at her. "Hello!"

Sam looked at her and shrugged, grinning. "It's the Doctor. Best to not question it."

"Jack," said the Doctor slowly. "That rocket…"

Jack looked guilty. He looked at Chantho, then at the Time Lord. "Yes?"

"It's not going to fly, is it? This rocket with its ersatz engines. It's not working."

Jack sighed. "We're going to find a way."

"You're stuck on this planet," the Doctor said, as Jack and Chantho looked at each other ashamedly. "And you haven't told them, have you? That lot out there, they still think they're going to fly."

"You don't understand, Doctor," said Jack, his eyebrows setting hard. "You have your fancy ship which you can use to zip in and out whenever you feel like. You don't know what it's like to be trapped. To be stuck, with no escape. Well…I do." He looked at the Time Lord pointedly, and Sam again felt guilty. "I had to give these people hope, Doctor. There's a beacon, that's been signaling for a thousand years. 'Come to Utopia'. And now the universe is collapsing, and it's the only hope these people have for the future. It's given them something to keep living for. And I'm not going to sit idly by and let their hope die out. I'm not going to abandon them."

The Doctor nodded. "Quite right, too. You know…" the Doctor turned away and picked up a cable. "A boost reversal circuit, as the name would suggest, must be a circuit which reverses the boost. So, I wonder, what would happen if I did this?"

He pulled out his sonic and scanned the end of a cable. Then he pulled. Suddenly, there was a mechanical thrum, and power surged through the machines.

Chantho gasped happily, looking around in awe. "Chan, it's working, tho!"

The Doctor smiled dryly at Jack, who looked gobsmacked. "It's been too long, Captain. You've forgotten-I'm brilliant."

Chapter Text

As the Doctor and Chantho continued working on the final details of the rocket's repair, Sam and Martha assisted Jack in organizing the refugees. The passengers were all in extremely good cheer, in learning that after waiting for so long, they were finally getting off of the damned planet and headed for the promised land.

"Excuse me! Sorry! Oof!" Something bumped into Sam's knee-a little boy, no older than ten, with scraggly blonde hair. "Hello, there. Ready for takeoff, mate?" Sam asked with a grin.

"Aye, sir," said the boy, grinning back.

"What's your name?" Sam asked.

"Creet, sir."

"Hello, Creet," said Sam, shaking his hand. "I'm Sam Tyler. Are you happy to be going to Utopia?"

"Aye, sir," said Creet again. Then he added, in a hushed tone, "Me mum used to say the sky was made of diamonds."

"Well, I've been up there, and believe me-it is everything you could possibly imagine. And so much more," Sam promised.

Creet grinned even bigger. He hugged Sam's legs briefly, then ran off to join the rest of the passengers in the hold.

Martha, coming up behind him, nudged his shoulder. "You're amazing with kids. I never knew."

"Yeah, well…had a troubled childhood myself. Know what it's like," shrugged Sam sheepishly.

"Too bad you and the Doctor will never…" Martha shrugged, trailing off.

"Oh, never say never, Pidge," said Sam. "Who knows? Maybe the Doctor will regenerate as a woman someday. You never can tell."

Martha laughed. "That would be something to see."

"Hey, come on," said Sam. "We should go check on the Doctor, see if everything's alright."

"Okay." Sam grabbed her hand and they edged through the crowd. The people were walking past them, bumping and jostling each other. "Hey!" squawked Martha, getting shoved by a man extra hard.

Something that had fallen from Martha's pocket, rolled across the floor and into Sam's toe. "Whoops," said Sam, bending over to get it.

It was a pocketwatch.

"Hey…where'd you get this?" said Sam, standing up straight with the watch, looking at it curiously. "Is this the Doctor's? I didn't think he got it back from the Family."

"Er…" Martha panicked, seeing the watch in Sam's hands. She'd been holding onto it all this time, not quite sure what to do with it or when exactly to bring it up. "I…I found it. In the TARDIS."

Sam looked at her curiously. "Where in the TARDIS?"

Martha sighed, caught. "Outside your bedroom," she fudged the truth.

"My bedroom?" said Sam, turning the watch over in his hand. "K…K…"

Koschei.

A rhythm tapped at the back of Sam's mind. One two three four. One two three four. One two three four. But it also seemed to come from the watch itself. There was a certain…warmth radiating from it, conducted into Sam's fingertips, to his nerves, to his very heart. Release me… it seemed to call to him. No, order him. Release me, you human fool, and receive my majesty. You will give your power to me!

Sam gulped. "There's an essence in there. I can feel it."

"What do you mean?" Martha said.

Sam looked from her to the entrancing watch. "I don't know…it's like it's…calling to me. I can't explain it."

"Sam…" Martha swallowed hard. "I…have you ever seen this watch before?"

"N-yes. Maybe. I don't know. It's like…it was in a dream, or something. It's all hazy."

"Sam…I think it's your watch. Your watch," Martha repeated, putting more emphasis on the second 'your'.

Sam looked up at her nervously. "What do you mean? 'My watch'? You mean like…like actually…" He slowly looked down at the watch again.

Open me, human boy. Open me, and summon your true being, accept your greater legacy. Release me!

A part of Sam wanted nothing more than to do as the watch said. But another, probably wiser, part wanted to drop that watch, run far away from it and never look back. "It's…bad," he stammered. "There's something bad in there. I'm…scared of it."

"Sam, if you can hear the watch…like the Doctor heard his watch when he was human…Sam. It might be possible that you're a-"

"Don't say it," said Sam softly.

"The Doctor might not be the only Time Lord left after all," Martha finished.

At the words 'Time Lord', the beat in Sam's mind pounded a hundred times louder. ONE TWO THREE FOUR ONE TWO THREE FOUR ONE TWO THREE FOUR ONE TWO THREE FOUR-

"Get it away!" Sam cried hoarsely, throwing the watch on the ground. "I can't, Martha, I can't be around that thing! It's bad! It's evil! I can't let it out!"

"Sam, just hold it, please, just try," said Martha, scooping it up and pressing it into his hands. "Think of the Doctor, if it really is a Time Lord essence in there, if you're really…well, just think. You and him…you could be together forever."

Sam looked down at the watch with new hope. "Together…forever…"

"Thete? Did you really mean it? You and me?"

"Of course, Kos."

"Forever?"

"Yes. Forever."

Sam's finger shakily reached for the button sitting atop the watch's rim…

"Hey! You two-everything alright?" Jack said, running up, looking from Sam to Martha.

"Er, yeah," said Sam, hastily slipping the watch into the pocket of his hoodie. "Everything's fine."

"Well, good. Come on. Everyone's just about on. Let's go check in with the Doctor and Chantho and see how their progress is doing." Jack hurried away.

Sam and Martha shared a look, then followed.


"Chan, everything is running as expected. We should be taking off within the next hour, Captain Harkness, tho," reported the technician.

"Attagirl, Blue," said Jack, squeezing her shoulder affectionately. "Doctor, can we help with anything?"

"No, well…any sign of the TARDIS? This should have been where she landed," said the Doctor.

"Oh, right! Yes, some of the crew found her in the basement," said Jack.

"Excellent! Let's get her up here. Sam, you can come with me to retrieve her." The Doctor said, setting down his work. "The TARDIS can provide extra juice for the rocket, get you to Utopia faster! Oh, but wait…there's something I meant to mention: the footprint engine. It can't be operated from the rocket. You have to be here on the ground to work it."

"Chan, that is correct. Captain Harkness and I are staying behind, tho," said Chantho.

"I told her that she should go and let me launch the rocket, but she insists on staying with me," said Jack, smiling fondly at the alien. Not in a flirtatious way, but in an older brother sort of way.

"Well, not to worry," said the Doctor, smiling. "The two of you are coming with us, on my ship."

"Chan, will it take us to Utopia, tho?" Chantho inquired.

"It'll take you anywhere or anywhen," said the Doctor proudly. "But not unless we go and get it. Come on, Sam. Let's get the TARDIS."


"Doctor," said Sam, as the two of them traveled down and down and down a dizzying spiral staircase to the basements, approximately four hundred feet below the lab facility. Sam thanked his lucky stars they didn't have to walk back up the stairs; the TARDIS could just teleport into the lab.

"Yes, Sam?"

"I…I need to tell you something," said Sam, not sure where to begin. He had to ask about this terrible drum beat in his mind, that had been thumping hard against his brain, ever since he picked up the watch. Should he even mention the watch? What if the Doctor came to the same conclusion that Martha did? That Sam, in fact, was secretly a…Time Lord? What if the Doctor got his hopes up for nothing?

Sam being a Time Lord and getting to be with the Doctor forever? It was simply too perfect. There had to be a hitch.

"Well? What is it?"

Sam then realized that the Doctor was waiting for him to reply. "Oh. Well, it's…I tried to tell you about it once before, back in your old body, right before you and me and Jack were kidnapped and trapped on Satellite Five. You see…I hear this…noise. Inside my head. A drumming. A constant, never-ending drumbeat. One-two-three-four, over and over."

"Really? When did this start?" asked the Doctor, not too concerned.

"Well…when I think about it, I suppose I've heard it all my life. But I never noticed it until…the night I met you. When you blew up my shop. I went home, watched the news, had a bite, then I went to bed. And I…I dreamed about you." Sam blushed.

"Me?"

"Yeah. But the weird thing is, I saw…different versions of you. Not just the Northerner with the big ears. There was a guy in a long scarf, and a really Victorian looking one with long curls…and one with a really heinously colored coat-"

"Hold on," said the Doctor. He'd stopped on the stairs and had turned around to look Sam in the eye. "You saw my past regenerations? All of them?"

"Maybe? I dunno, there could've been more."

"You didn't see one in a greatcoat with whiskers, did you?"

"Er, no. Why?"

"No reason. But still, that's impossible!" the Doctor spluttered.

"I saw the young you too, Doctor," said Sam. "You were just a little boy. You were in a field of red grass, wearing orange robes. You had blue eyes and blonde curls and little freckles on your cheeks."

The Doctor blushed.

"You were called…Theta Sigma," said Sam. "Is that…your real name?"

"No. Well, sort of. It was a nickname my friends and my teachers called me in school," said the Doctor. "But…how could you possibly have seen all that in a dream?"

"I have visions," Sam admitted. "Ever since we met, I've had visions of your past."

"And you can hear psychic impulses, like the Nestene Consciousness," said the Doctor slowly. "And you never see anything projected on the psychic paper. And you withstood the power of the Time Vortex. And you can solve complicated math sequences in your head at lightning speed, even before I've picked up on the pattern…Sam. Do you know what this means?"

Sam's breath caught in his throat, and he had to curl his hands into fists to keep them from thrusting inside his pocket and pulling out the watch. "No," he gulped.

The Doctor's face broke into a grin. "You're psychic! You're pure, untapped, psychic potential! Oh, I always suspected, but I told myself all humans have a low level psychic ability, but you! You're a bloody marvel! My God, with a mind like that…you could practically be a Time Lord!"

"Practically," Sam agreed, forcing a grin.

"Oh, Sam. My lovely, wonderful, brilliant, marvelous Sam." The Doctor kissed his forehead. "Is it any wonder I found you?" He turned around and began almost skipping down the stairs.

"Yer, but the drums, the drums, Doctor," said Sam, following after him. "What about them?"

"Oh, probably just a side effect from disuse of your abilities, that psychic energy, bursting to break free from the confines of your tiny human brain. Never mind that, once this adventure's over, I'll teach you some methods, get you on a mental exercise regimen, so to speak. You've never even tried telepathic sex." The Doctor waggled his eyebrows at him suggestively. "Don't worry, Sam. We'll put those pesky drums to rest, I promise. Oh boy, I can't wait!"

Sam silently followed the Doctor the rest of the 216 feet down the stairs as the Time Lord babbled excitedly on about psychokinetics and telepathy and such. He slipped his hand in his pocket and fingered the watch.

I await you, it whispered.

Chapter Text

Sam and the Doctor returned in the TARDIS, and hooked up the rocket to give it an extra boost of power. Jack and Martha came in from the commons area. "All civilians loaded up and ready to go," Jack reported. He looked at Chantho. "Blue? What else do we need to do?"

"Chan, all we have to do is connect the couplings. I have instructed Atillo to send in someone to do the job, tho."

"Great! So nothing can stand in our way now," said Sam positively.

Whoop! Whoop! Whoop! A loud alarm went off suddenly. The lights flickered off momentarily, then flashed back on in red, like back up power.

The Doctor glared at his companion. "You just had to say something."

"Chan, Captain Harkness, Doctor, the stet radiation levels are rising to a dangerous level, tho!" Chantho exclaimed fearfully.

"What do we do?!" Martha said, panicking.

"Chan, those dials over there, they control the radiation levels. Keep them under red, tho!"

"Right!" Martha dashed over to the controls. She tried desperately to turn back the dials but it was having no effect. "It's not working!"

"Chan, we are losing power! Someone has cut the electricity, tho!"

"What can we do?" Sam said.

"The chamber's going to flood unless we can control the radiation," the Doctor said, desperately inspecting the machinery, but it was pretty pointless without power. "Jack, override the vents!"

Jack yanked two large wires out of the machines. They were sparking in his hands. "I can jump start the override!"

"Jack, what are you doing?!" Sam screamed.

"Jack, don't, it's going to flare-!" But the Doctor was cut off as Jack brought the wires together. Sharp lines of white hot electricity ran through the man, and Jack convulsed and collapsed on the floor.

He was dead.

"Nooooooo!" Sam cried, lunging for the Captain, but the Doctor caught him around the torso. "Doctor, he's-he's d-d-dead!" Sam stammered, bursting into tears.

"Oh my God!" Martha rushed over to perform CPR.

"Martha, don't bother," said the Doctor, but she didn't listen.

"Chan, do not touch the wires, tho!" Chantho carefully picked up the sparking wires and moved them safely away. Martha knelt on the floor next to the dead man and began breathing into his mouth.

Sam was hysterical. "Doctor, what are we going to do? Jack is dead!"

The Doctor seemed strangely unconcerned. He looked at Chantho, who was mildly distressed, compared to Sam and Martha. "The chamber's flooded with radiation, yes?"

Chantho looked momentarily dazed, then slightly shook her head and looked at the Doctor. "Chan, yes. And now that the couplings cannot be connected, the rocket will never take off now. The project has failed, tho."

"Oh, I wouldn't say that," said the Doctor. Sam was clinging to him, watching horrorstruck and glassy-eyed as Martha continued to try and bring Jack around. "So, basically, you've got a room which no one can enter without dying, correct?"

"Chan, yes, tho."

"Well…" The Doctor took off his brainy specs. "I think I know just the man for the job."

Sam whipped his head around to glare at the Doctor. "Doctor, now is not the time! What the hell is wrong with you?! Can't you show a little respect for the-"

Suddenly, there was a loud gasp, and Jack's eyes snapped open, struggling for breath.

Martha squeaked with surprise.

Sam stared at the resurrected man in shock. "…dead?" he finished quietly.

Jack coughed. "Was someone kissing me?"


"Jack, I don't understand…how did you…I don't…you were dead!" Sam spluttered in disbelief.

"Yeah. I do that occasionally," Jack replied, drinking weak tea from a Styrofoam cup while Martha rubbed his back.

"But…how did you come back?" Sam asked.

"Long story," said Jack. "I'll tell you all about it sometime. For the meantime…" Jack set his cup aside and stood up. "I believe I have some couplings to connect."

"Yes, you do, the sooner the better," said the Doctor. "Come on. We'll go down to the radiation chamber together."

"I'm coming too," said Martha.

"And me," Sam said, but the Doctor stopped him. "No, Sam," said the Doctor. "I need you to stay, in case we need your help from up here. Can I trust you?"

Sam smiled bitterly. "Yeah, alright."

"Thank you." The Doctor kissed him chastely. "See you."

"Always," said Sam, smiling at their retreating backs.

Once they had left the room, Jack muttered quietly to the Doctor, "How long have you known?"

The Doctor looked at him unhappily. "Since I left you."

Jack shook his head in disgust. "You fucking bastard," he spat.


"I don't get it. He was dead. Stone dead. He was an…ex-Jack," Sam was saying, his arms crossed as he leaned against a control panel. "How did he just-"

"Chan, would you like some tea, Mister Tyler, tho?" Chantho asked timidly, clutching another steaming Styrofoam cup.

"I think I could use it, this has been one hell of a day," said Sam, thankfully taking the tea from her. "I have a bit of a headache. Distract me, please."

"Chan, how, tho?"

"Well, for starters…" Sam looked at her. "Will you tell me how come you say 'chan' in front of every phrase, and 'tho' after?"

Chantho looked surprised. "Chan, it…it is polite, tho," she said.

"What, like…if you didn't, it would be like swearing or something?"

"Chan, indeed, tho," said Chantho.

Sam shrugged. "Well, it's just you and me here. Why don't you give it a go?"

"Chan, oh no, I couldn't, sir, tho!"

"Oh, come on, go ahead. Just for me?" Sam grinned.

Chantho blushed, looked around quickly, then whispered, "…no." She gave a high pitched giggle.

Sam laughed too. "So, how long have you known Jack, then?"

"Chan, only for a few years, tho," said Chantho.

"And you didn't seem too surprised when he Jesused up back there," said Sam. "Does he…do that a lot? Die and come back to life?"

"Chan, yes. The first time I saw it happen, I was so scared. Then he woke up, and I nearly fainted! And every time he dies, I…I fear it will be the final time. Tho."

Sam smiled at her sympathetically. "You love him, Bluey?"

Chantho's cheek areas turned a light magenta. "Chan, I…I adore him. But you cannot tell him, please, I beg; he does not know, tho."

"Your secret's safe with me," Sam vowed.


"When did you first realize?" the Doctor asked.

The Doctor was on the other side of the radiation-proof door, watching Jack connect the couplings through the little glass porthole. Jack was typing in the long code to access the third coupling (the first two had already been done by the previous chap, who'd unfortunately disintegrated with the elevation in radiation levels).

"Earth, 1892," Jack answered. "Got in a fight in Ellis Island. A man shot me through the heart. Then I woke up. Thought it was kind of strange. But then it never stopped." The cap opened. "Fell off a cliff, trampled by horses, World War One, World War Two, poison, starvation…a stray javelin."

At this, the Doctor gave a sympathetic "ooh".

"In the end, I got the message," Jack said. "I'm the man who can never die. And all that time you knew."

"That's why I left you behind," the Doctor said. "It's not easy even just looking at you, Jack, because you're wrong."

"Thanks," Jack snorted flippantly, struggling to unlock the coupling.

"You are. I can't help it. I'm a Time Lord. It's instinct. It's in my guts. You're a fixed point in time and space. You're a fact. That's never meant to happen. Even the TARDIS reacted against you, fleeing off to the basement so you couldn't touch her."

"So what you're saying is that you're, ah-" The coupling finally turned and dropped down to connect with the power grid. "-prejudiced?" Jack gasped, flexing his finger muscles to shake out the stiffness.

The Doctor laughed sheepishly. "I never thought of it like that."

Jack laughed too, but there was a bitter note behind it. "Shame on you," he chided.

"Yeah," sighed the Doctor.


Sam looked up from the dregs of his tea, out into space. "I hope everything's going alright," he said.

"Chan, I can check if you like-oh, I am sorry, tho!" Chantho had knocked into Sam while trying to get at the CCTV, and something fell out of the pocket of Sam's hoodie.

"Chan, here, you dropped this, tho," said Chantho, bending down to pick up the fallen item-the bloody fobwatch.

"Thanks," grimaced Sam, taking the watch. He hated touching it. It made his skin buzz in the most dreadful way.

"Chan, what is wrong, Mister Tyler, tho?" Chantho asked concernedly.

"Oh, nothing, my dear, nothing. It's just…this watch. It's the most peculiar thing. See, the Doctor, he had a watch just like this, that could turn him from human to Time Lord. And now Martha thinks that since I have a watch just like it, I must really be a Time Lord. Rubbish, right?"

"Chan, I do not think it is unreasonable, tho," said Chantho, looking slightly confused, but considerate.

"But Chantho…you don't get it. The Doctor's told me: he's the last of his kind. It's impossible that there could be another Time Lord out in the universe. Especially if that Time Lord was me."

"Chan, but how can you be sure, tho?"

Sam didn't quite have an answer for that. He traced his thumb over the knob at the top.

A sinister laugh echoed from the watch into his own head, and a voice was calling, Destroy him! And you will give your power to me! The voices were from the familiar characters in his visions, and they made Sam's toes curl in terror, his blood curdle.


"Last thing I remember, back when I was mortal, I was facing three Daleks. Death by extermination. And then I came back to life. What happened?" Jack asked the Doctor.

The Doctor smiled ruefully. "Sam."

"How?"

"Opened the heart of the TARDIS and absorbed the Time Vortex itself."

"What does that mean, exactly?" Jack asked.

"No one's ever meant to have that power," the Doctor stated flatly. "If a Time Lord did that, he'd become a god. A vengeful god. But he was human…everything he did was so human. He brought you back to life but he couldn't control it. He brought you back forever. That's something, I suppose." The Doctor smiled, slightly proud of his amazing little human. "The final act of the Time War was life."

"I take it he can't change me back," said Jack.

"I took the power of him," the Doctor said. "It was going to burn him alive."

"You know, it's the strangest thing, Doctor," panted Jack. The radiation was taking its toll on his strength, draining him. "I did a stint in London, in the 1970s, maybe the eighties, I'm not sure. Had some close brushes with your UNIT buddies, by the way. Yeah. I know you worked with them. I looked up Sam Tyler-I couldn't find him."

"Well, I imagine it would've been hard to track him down. He was a foster child," said the Doctor.

"No, that's the thing. Sam's what, 36, 37 years old? So he must've been born in the early '70s. But according to public records, there was no such person as 'Sam Tyler' till the year 2000. Weird, right?"

"That…that can't be right," said the Doctor dismissively.

Behind him, Martha was listening to the conversation, biting her lip, resisting the urge to blurt out the truth.


"Chan, these markings," said Chantho, indicating the spirographs etched into the surface of the watch. "What are they, tho?"

"Rassilonate Gallifreyan," Sam murmured. "The language of the Time Lords. This bit here, for example…" He lightly traced a small circle in the design. "It means…well, it doesn't directly translate into English. But the closest phrase is…'all is not what it seems'."

"Chan, did the Doctor teach you that, tho?"

"No…I…I just could read it," Sam said, his voice catching. "Holy…I can read Gallifreyan. This big series of rings over here…that's my name."

"Chan, 'Sam Tyler', tho?"

"No, no, my real, given name. It's been so long since anyone's…I'd forgotten. I guess that's what living as many centuries as I have will do to you. It makes you forget…" Sam's voice trailed off. "Oh God…"

His hands were shaking. There were tears welling up in his eyes again.

"I am a Time Lord," he breathed.

Suddenly, an alert chimed from the controls. "Chan, the Doctor and Jack have finished connecting the couplings! I must turn on the footprint engine now, tho!"

As the little blue scientist rushed away, Sam stood frozen, transfixed on the round, bronze object in his hand. Its surface seemed to be almost humming with energy, all Sam's nerves were a-quiver, and the drums had never been more intense.

It is time, the watch whispered.

Sam shut his eyes tight, a teardrop leaking from his eyelashes. Then he opened them. He set his finger on top of the button…

…and pushed.

The watch opened.


"Doctor, there's something I have to tell you," Martha blurted.

"Jack, get out of there!" The Doctor turned from the window to look at his young companion. "What is it, Martha?"

Martha licked her lips nervously. "It's about Sam."


"Chan, two minutes to ignition, tho!" Chantho cried from across the room.

Golden energy spiraled out of the watch's face into Sam's eyes and his skin and his very soul, and he cried out sharply as every strand of his DNA ripped itself apart and began knitting itself back together. He feel his heart moving over to make room as his body grew another one. His brain surged with memories and intellect he never thought possible. All at once he could see the entire pantheon of time and space, stretching apart and rubbing together and blending in a never-ending hurricane of cause and effect. And it was all in an instant.

Sam collapsed on the floor.


"-he's got this watch, he's got a fob watch. It's the same as yours. Same writing on it, same everything!"

The Doctor stared at Martha in horror. "Don't be ridiculous," he whispered hoarsely.

"I asked him. He said it was…'calling to him'," Martha swallowed.

"So he's got the same watch," Jack called nonchalantly from across the room.

"Yeah, but it's not a watch. It's this…chameleon thing," Martha struggled to explain.

"No, no, no, it's this, this thing, this device, it rewrites biology. Changes a Time Lord into a human," the Doctor corrected, gnashing his teeth together, trying to focus on getting this rocket airbourne, and not the possibility that his lover and best friend may not be all he seemed.

"And it's the same watch," Martha insisted.

"It can't be," said the Doctor stubbornly.

"That means Sam could be a Time Lord. You might not be the last one!" Jack exclaimed. An alarm went off.

"Jack, keep it level!" the Doctor shouted at him.

"Think what the Face of Boe said, Doctor," Martha pressed. "His dying words. He said-"

The counter had reached 'one'. The Doctor turned the keys in the ignition, and the boosters of the rocket lit up. The whole station shook, and the rocket took flight, shooting into the stars. The refugees were safe.


"Chan, Mister Tyler?" said Chantho, creeping over to the prone man cautiously. "Are you unwell, tho?"

He carefully raised himself up, facing away from her. He cracked his neck to the right, then to the left. Then, swiftly, he turned to look at her.

Chantho was immediately struck by how cold his eyes had turned. They seemed to crackle with electricity and darkness. There was something hypnotic and frightening about his gaze. Chantho was a woman of science, had never invested in any spiritual belief of any kind. But right now, the only noun she could come up with to describe the man before her…was a demon.

The not-Sam smiled cruelly at her. "Never better," he murmured.

Chapter Text

"He was a friend of mine once. A very good friend. You might almost say we were at school together..." –The Third Doctor


"Lieutenant, have you done it?" the Doctor shouted into the phone, en communicado with the rocket. "Did you get velocity?"

The Doctor was met with only static.

"Have you done it? Lieutenant, have you done it?!" the Doctor cried urgently.

Finally, he heard the lieutenant, Atillo, answer with a crackle. Affirmative. We'll see you in Utopia.

"Good luck." The Doctor slammed the receiver down and took off for the laboratory, with Martha and Jack in tow.

I've got to get to Sam. Before he opens that watch. Before it's too late!


It was too late.

Not-Sam brushed past Chantho and yanked down on a lever on the controls. "Chan, Mister Tyler…you have locked them in, tho," said the technician.

"Yes, I know." The man's voice had lost its rough Cockney edge. His diction was now clear, smooth, and refined. "All the better to keep them out of my way. But not to worry, my dear." Not-Sam smiled at her again with those terrible, cold eyes. "As one door closes…another must open." He pulled down another switch-the one that, Chantho realized, would open the outer gates, letting in the Futurekind.

"Chan, you must stop, tho!" Chantho panicked. She had no idea what was going on. She didn't know how the man suddenly knew how to work all the controls. Or why he was locking the others out, leaving them to the mercy of the cannibals. Not-Sam continued calmly bustling about the controls, powering down the systems. "Chan, but you've lowered the defenses. The Futurekind will get in, tho!"

"Oh, the Doctor'll find a way to save them. He always does," said Not-Sam nonchalantly. "You, on the other hand, won't be so lucky."

Chantho quivered in fear as Not-Sam picked up one of the sparking wires, the dangerous end pointed directly at her. "Chan, please, tho!"

"Very sorry to do this, Chantho," said Not-Sam placidly. "You're such a nice little insect. But do you know what happens to insects when they come too close to electricity?"

Chantho screamed as the man jabbed the wire at her. She convulsed several times, then fell on the floor, unconscious.

"They get zapped," Not-Sam finished.


The Doctor finally managed to sonic the bulkhead open, and now the trio was sprinting for the lab. The Futurekind, however, were hot on their heels.

The Doctor could feel a familiar tingling, a dull buzzing in the back of his mind. The echo of another Time Lord's mind reflected in his own. Another Time Lord mind was present here.

No. No, no, no, no...hold on, Sam!


Not-Sam walked across the room and picked up Jack's jar with the Doctor's hand in it. "I should take this with me. Sample of the Doctor's DNA, sure to come in handy. Get it? Handy!" He cracked up laughing. "Oh, I didn't realize this regeneration was so punny!" He laughed harder.

Not-Sam heard banging outside from right outside the lab. "SAM!" It was the Doctor. "Sam, let me in! Can you hear me?! Don't do anything rash!"

As the Doctor continued knocking and calling, Not-Sam came over to the NAV-computer, and pulled out a data disk from the drive. He snorted at it. "'Utopia'." Now the rocket would never reach its destination…if it even had one to begin with.

"SAM!"

There was one last thing to do. Not-Sam went over to the ajar doors of the TARDIS and began disconnecting the extension cord plugged into the TARDIS's back up power. He didn't notice Chantho's body stirring behind him. The electric shock hadn't quite killed her.

Chantho reached into the pocket of her lab coat and pulled out a small laser gun. She shakily held it in her hand and took aim for Not-Sam's head.

Luckily, at just the right moment, Not-Sam bent over, and her shot just barely missed him. Her life force diminished, Chantho collapsed.

Not-Sam whipped around to look at her in surprise. "You weren't dead all the way! You almost made me regenerate, naughty girl." He came over to inspect her cadaver, nudged the weapon in her hand with his foot. "One-time shot. Good thing you missed, though. I've barely begun to have any fun in this body! And believe me, I do plan to have some fun. Hee-hee-hee-hee-hee!"

Not-Sam made his way back to the ship and was about to climb inside; he was standing on the threshold when the door to the lab burst open. The Doctor came running inside, looking like a madman. He stared at Not-Sam, wide-eyed.

Not-Sam grinned at him, winked, then hopped inside the TARDIS, hurriedly locking the door behind him.

"No!" The Doctor grabbed the door handle and shook it. He pounded his fists on the wood of the door. "Let me in! Sam, let me in!"

Not-Sam strode over to the TARDIS console. He wiped the pad of his thumb on the fabric of his hoodie before pressing it against the Rassilon Imprintur, imposing his psychic signature to the ship. The TARDIS psychically whimpered as it gave in to him, and came under his control.

"That's right," cooed Not-Sam, running his hand along the lip of the console's edge. "You're going to be a good ship now, aren't you? No more trying to electrocute me, no ma'am!"

Outside, the Doctor had given up trying to unlock the door with his key, and was now trying to sonic it. "Oh no, you don't!" called Not-Sam gleefully, pulling down a lever. He hit a button on the console that would project his voice to the outside. "Deadlocked, my dear Doctor! Told you that silly sonic screwdriver was useless."

"Let me in! Please, just listen to me!" the Doctor shouted. "I'm begging you. Everything's changed! It's only the two of us! We're the only ones left! Just let me in!"

"Ooh, yes, maybe I should, that way we can have a nice little chat while I tell you all my plans and you can work out a way to stop me, I don't think!" Not-Sam called back mockingly.

"I'm asking you really properly, just stop! Just think!" the Doctor pled.

"Oh, Doctor, you always sound so lovely when you beg," smirked Not-Sam. "But you've forgotten one teensy little detail, haven't you?...Use my name, Doctor."

"Sam Ty-"

"MY REAL NAME!" roared Not-Sam. "Or have you not figured it out yet?! I mean, really?! It was so bloody obvious! I practically spelled it out for you! But then again, you always were rubbish at seeing through my disguises."

The Doctor already knew who it was. He didn't want to believe it, but the other Time Lord's mind was rubbing at his, and like a old man remembers his lessons from school, the Doctor knew that psychic touch, like the touch of an estranged lover on one's skin. Unmistakable and thrilling.

"Master," he whispered.

On the other side of the doors, the Master smiled cruelly. "Good boy."

"Master," said the Doctor again, tears welling up in his eyes. "I'm sorry."

You will never be sorry enough, Theta. "Tough!" The Master hit a few more controls, and the TARDIS began dematerializing. He cackled madly, finally triumphant.

Suddenly, the console sparked and the time rotor began slowing down. The Doctor-he was doing something to the coordinates with his screwdriver. "Oh no you don't!" the Master called again. He slammed down on a lever, and the rotor started pumping again. The Master looked up. "End of the universe!" he shouted. "Have fun!...bye-bye!"

The TARDIS faded out, leaving the Doctor and his little friends behind.


The Master quickly realized that the Doctor had programmed the TARDIS to only land in two places-Malcassairo, or the place it had been prior to that, 21st century England. The Master would have preferred, oh, I don't know, literally any other time and place…but it would do. Besides, getting to wreak havoc on the Doctor's pet planet? What fun!

The Master was disgusted with him. "I can't believe it. I can't believe I was that twit's…monkey boy for three years!" he muttered angrily, stripping off the blasted hoodie and discarding it in a corner carelessly. "Blegh! I need a shower. Have to wash this human stench off of me."

The Master actually ended up taking four showers before he finally felt clean and properly Gallifreyan again. As for Sam Tyler's civvies…he burned them. Threw them right into the Doctor's pizza oven.

"I'll teach him to try and make a pet out of me," the Master muttered to himself as he stalked down the hallway, still damp and clothed only in a towel, to the wardrobe.

The Doctor's wardrobe was a shambles. Honestly, the man had no sense of organization whatsoever. The Master wandered around for nearly an hour, browsing through the miles and miles of clothing.

It was a bit like taking a walk down memory lane. The Master saw a black bomber jacket littered with pins that said in snazzy red and yellow cursive letters embroidered on the back, "Ace". He found a pair of bright yellow go-go boots he could have sworn belonged to Jo Grant once. A red floppy newsboy-style hat that had the name "Dodo" written on the inner lining.

And that didn't even compare with the amount of clothing he found that had belonged to the Doctor himself. He found the Seventh Doctor's question mark jumper (that joined his human clothes in the pizza oven), an ugly pair of plaid trousers (that the Master couldn't even bring himself to pick up to throw away) belonging to the Doctor's second self, the Sixth Doctor's infamous circus tent coat (this was getting ridiculous), a ruffled shirt that had belonged to the Third Doctor, the First Doctor's cane (which the Master discovered was actually a sonic device), and one of the Fourth Doctor's iconic long scarves, which the Master nearly tripped over and broke his neck on.

For funsies, the Master decided to try on the Fifth Doctor's beige coat with its jaunty red piping (at least it was missing that God awful celery). He looked at himself in the mirror. He contorted his face into a proper pout. "Master," he said, imitating that squeaky voice, "you cannot do this! It's completely unethical!"

Then the Master mimed stroking a beard and said in a much deeper, purring voice, "Well, my dear Doctor, what do you propose to do to stop me?"

"Oh, Master, I'll do anything!" the Master said in his falsetto, batting his eyelashes. Then he dropped a voice a little. "And I do mean anything."

The Master looked at himself in the mirror again and laughed, putting his hands on his hips (meanwhile noting to himself that beige was definitely not this regeneration's color, drained him). As he did so, his hand brushed a soft bulge in his coat pocket.

"Hmm?" The Master reached inside and pulled out a balled up pair of familiar-looking black gloves. "Well, would you look at that?" he chucked evilly, sliding his hands into the old things. "The old fool was feeling sentimental! Rightly so, considering how the little bastard was willing to let me burn to a crisp."

The Master briefly considered wearing the gloves as part of his ensemble for this regeneration, but decided against it, replacing them back inside the coat. "A little too melodramatic, even for me! No, this regeneration is going for a nice, simple, black suit. If I can find one in this damned machine."

But eventually, the Master did manage to find a plain black suit in all the hubbub. It wasn't Armani or anything particularly nice, but it would do.

"Looking sharp, Mister Master!" said the Time Lord, preening in front of the full length mirror. "If I may say so. Well, I think it's time I got out of this rickety old machine! Ho boy, do I need a haircut!"

But as soon as the Master stepped out of the TARDIS, he found himself face to face with a human woman in a police officer's uniform, with reddish brown hair. "Sammy," she said, sounding relieved.

The Master squinted at her scathingly. "Who the hell are you," he said flatly and disinterestedly. He didn't have time to deal with stupid Earth bitches.

The woman's face fell. "I'm your girlfriend, Sammy. Annie, remember?"

The Master did recognize her. "Oh yeah. You. The girl he, well, I, was dating, before the fool let himself get buggered up the arse."

"Did the TARDIS move?" said Annie, looking at the ship confusedly. "It was just out front of the Powell Estates."

"Sorry, what?"

"You know…the Doctor sent you away, to save you, and then you and I went to the diner to get some lunch, and you stormed out angrily. It was only ten minutes ago."

Then the Master realized what happened. The TARDIS must've come to the same day that "Sam Tyler" had been sent back home by the Ninth Doctor, who was back on Satellite 5 with the Daleks. "Oh yeah. Huh. Weird."

"Sammy, are you alright? You seem different," said Annie, cocking her head to the side.

"Well, little girl, I am different," said the Master, stepping out of the TARDIS, showing off his suit. "In fact, you might say…I'm a whole new man."

"Okay, 'whole new man'," said Annie, rolling her eyes amusedly. "Who are you supposed to be then?"

The Time Lord stared deep into her eyes, reaching out into her mind and taking control of it. "I am the Master. And you will obey me."

The police woman's eyes glazed over, her face taking that familiar blank expression. Ah, humans. They were so easy to hypnotize, it almost wasn't any fun. "Now, little girl," said the Master. "Can you hear me?"

"Yes, Master," breathed Annie, completely entranced.

"Very good. Now, here's what I want you to do. Go and requisition a big truck and some chains. Then go find the Sam Tyler from your timeline. He'll be in the TARDIS in the regular place from before. Then, I want you to go and help him open the heart of the TARDIS, so he can get back to the Doctor. Can't have any timelines being disrupted now, can we? Not if I'm to take over this wretched planet, somehow. Then, at the Battle of Canary Wharf, you'll meet a man named Mickey Smith. I want you to go back to his universe with him, and stay there. You got all that?"

"Yes, Master."

"Very good. And when I snap my fingers, you're going to leave this place and forget all about seeing me. Understand?"

"Yes, Master."

"Good girl. Ready? One…two…three." The Master snapped his fingers.

Annie blinked once, twice, then turned around and got in her patrol car and drove away.

The Master chuckled to himself. "This is going to be too easy. But fun."

Chapter Text

Eighteen months later…

In a back alley in London, four figures appeared out of seemingly nowhere.

They were all groaning. "Ah, my head," moaned Martha Jones, leaning against a wall for support.

"Mmmm," groaned the Doctor, hunched over. He painstakingly stood up. "Time travel without a capsule, that's a killer!"

The third, Captain Jack Harkness, was supporting a figure clothed in a tarp as they exited the alley and walked out onto the main street. "Still…at least we made it. Earth, 21st century by the look of it." He chuckled. "Talk about lucky."

"That wasn't luck," said the Doctor, his face set in stone as he marched along, hands in his pockets. "That was me."


A few moments earlier (billions of years in the future)…

"Hold it still! Don't move!" The Doctor was frantically trying to sonic Jack's Vortex Manipulator. "Hold still!"

"Doctor, I'm not sure this will work-!" Jack exclaimed, the figure draped in cloth under his arm and he and Martha were struggling to hold back the masses of Futurekind.

"Hold on, everyone!" The Doctor typed in coordinates into Jack's device. "NOW!"

The foursome flashed out.


Presently.

The cloaked figure beside Jack whimpered softly. "Don't worry," Jack whispered to the figure. "The pain will go away soon."

"She needs rest. Let's sit down here," said the Doctor, as the four of them sat at a cluster of concrete benches.

"The moral of the story is, if you're gonna get stuck at the end of the universe, get stuck with an ex-Time Agent and his Vortex Manipulator," said Jack, as the cloaked figure leaned on him for support.

"But I don't understand-why did Sam take the TARDIS?" said Martha. "Why did he leave us there to die?"

"Because he's not Sam. Not anymore," said the Doctor darkly.

"Then who is he?" said Martha.

The Doctor sighed. "His name, well, his title is…the Master."

"Kinky," snickered Jack.

"It's not a joke," said the Doctor. "This is bad, very bad."

"But…this Master bloke…he's still Sam, isn't he?" Martha just wasn't getting it.

"About as much as I was John Smith. There never was a Sam Tyler, don't you get it, Sam Tyler was a cover, Sam Tyler…" The Doctor smacked himself in the face, groaning. "…is an anagram for masterly. 'Practically spelled it out for me'. Oh, brilliant, Doctor, just brilliant. No wonder he was always calling you an idiot."

Martha could tell all this was upsetting the Doctor, so she said, "But he's got the TARDIS. He could be anywhere in time and space."

"No, he's here," said the Doctor distractedly as he looked around. "Trust me." Something was…off.

He spied a homeless man sitting against a wall off a ways. He had his tin beggar's cup in one hand and a coin in the other. And he was tapping them together. In a steady sequence of four. From his thousand yard stare, it was almost like he was in a trance.

What are you up to, Koschei? the Doctor wondered.

"Where can he be?" Martha said. "He could be hiding anywhere. Sam-the Master-he's not exactly the type to stand out. Very fade-into-the-woodwork, that one."

"Oh, not the Master," said the Doctor. "Sam, sure. It was all a part of the illusion. But the Master…I know his style. He likes making a splash."

As if on cue, a newsreader announced from a large screen placed in the square: "Mister Saxon has returned from the Palace and is greeting the crowd inside Saxon Headquarters." People were watching, clapping.

Saxon.

"We missed the election," said Martha.

The Doctor stood up, staring at the screen in horror. "No," he breathed.

"What?...oh, Doctor, you don't suppose…"

They all turned to look at the screen to see the camera focused on a pair giving a press conference. One was a blonde woman in a black and pale pink jacket and skirt ensemble. The other…

…was Sam.

"Oh no," said Martha, her heart dropping. "Doctor-!"

"I see him," said the Doctor.

"Doctor, the Master is Prime Minister of Great Britain," said Jack.

"Excellent, well done, Jack, way to state the obvious!" the Doctor snapped.

Onscreen, the paparazzi were swarming the Prime Minister and the woman. "Come on, Mr. Saxon, kiss for the lady!" coaxed a photographer.

The Master, smiling for the camera, leant in and gave the blonde woman an open-mouthed kiss.

"The Master and his wife!" the Doctor added, his voice betraying disbelief.

The Master stepped up to the podium. He was dressed in a smart suit, and his shaggy hair was now neatly manicured and combed straight atop his head. "He cleans up nicely, I'll give him that," muttered Martha.

"This country," the Master began, and the gang noticed that he'd lost his Cockney accent, and his voice had faded into something more intelligent-sounding and dignified. "Has been sick," the Master continued. "The country needs healing. This country needs medicine."

The Doctor felt a wave of nausea rise up in his stomach.

"In fact, I'd go so far as to say…that what this country really needs…right now…" The Master turned his eyes to the camera and smirked, as if he could see the Doctor looking back at him right now. "…is a doctor."

The Doctor stood there as the people around them clapped for the Prime Minister's words. "Doctor, he's calling you out," said Jack.

"Yeah, he is," said the Doctor numbly. Then he leapt into animation. "But right now we need to get out of here and do some reconnaissance, read up on this 'Mister Saxon'. Anyway, it's not safe out here for us, someone might see Chantho and make a scene."

The hooded figure stood up from the bench and looked into the face of the Doctor. "Chan, where can we go, tho?" asked the blue, insect-like technician in a fearful whisper.

"My place," said Martha decisively. "We'll be safe there, and we can read up on Saxon."

"Lead the way."


Once they were in Martha's home, Chantho laid down on Martha's couch to rest (being nearly electrocuted can be quite draining), and the Doctor and Jack looked up Harold Saxon.

"I can't believe he used the name of his own doppelganger as his alias, it's so unoriginal!" the Doctor said.

"Doppelganger?" said Jack.

"Long story," said the Doctor, waving his hand away. "No time."

"It's so weird though," said Martha. "It's the day after the election. That's only four days after I met you."

"We went flying around the universe while he was here all the time," groaned the Doctor, beating himself up mentally.

"Okay, so he was masquerading as your human companion for nearly three years. But you obviously knew this Master person before then," said Martha to the Doctor. "You gonna tell us who he is?"

"He's a Time Lord," said the Doctor.

"Yeah, obviously, but what about the rest of it? I mean, who calls themself the Master, anyway?!" Martha exclaimed.


"Who calls themself 'the Master' anyway?" Theta teased Koschei.

Koschei glared at him. "I do. Listen, Thete, my parents and our teachers all have it in their minds that I'm going to grow up and become just another cog in the Gallifreyan politics machine. Well, I'm not."

"Then what are you going to do?" Theta asked, raising his eyebrow, smirking. As if he didn't know.

Koschei raised an eyebrow right back at him, pushed him back onto the bed, and leant over him, his lips ghosting over Theta's. "I'm going to be the Master of my own destiny, travelling the stars and shagging your brains out on every celestial body we land on."

"Well, why don't you give me a sneak preview…Master." Theta's voice dropped an octave, its resonance laced with sex, and Koschei kissed him hard.


"That's all you need to know! Come on, show me Harold Saxon!" the Doctor prompted Jack, who was furiously researching on the computer.

Martha, where are you? Martha's sister's voice came out of Martha's answering machine. I've got this new job. You won't believe it. It's weird. They just phoned me up out of the blue. I'm working for-

"Oh, like it matters!" Martha groaned, turning the machine off.

On Harold Saxon's official website, they found promotional videos for Saxon's campaign. "Ann Widcombe!" said Martha, impressed. "Our boy does like to make a splash."

"Former Minister of Defense. He shot down a spaceship-on Christmas Eve?" Jack turned to look at the Doctor expectantly. "Wasn't that when you lost your hand?"

"Yeah," said the Doctor amazedly. "The Sycorax…I had just regenerated! And he was there, with me."

"He was two places at the same time?" Martha said.

"Time travel, remember?" said the Doctor. "But I thought it was Torchwood that shot down the Sycorax."

"Guess he was heading them up," said Jack.

"And he was with me then, too, at Canary Wharf. And on the next Christmas Eve with Donna and the Racnoss! My God, he was orchestrating all of this all along!"

"I guess 'Master''s short for 'Puppetmaster' then," joked Martha weakly.

"His story goes back for years," said Jack. "Look, Cambridge University, Rugby blue. Won the Athletics thing. Wrote a novel, went into business, marriage, everything. He's got a whole life."

"All fake, of course," said the Doctor. "Jack…can you look up 'Sam Tyler'?"

"No problem," said Jack, setting to typing.

"Chan, Doctor, tho?" Chantho had risen from the couch.

"Ah, yes, you, you were the next thing on my agenda," said the Doctor, pulling out his sonic. "We need to disguise you, or your appearance'll cause an uproar. Here…" He sonicked the alien, and after a moment, her appearance shifted.

Martha stared in amazement. "How'd you do that?"

"Shimmer effect, it's a schoolboy trick. Chantho, how do you feel?"

"Chan…queer, tho." Chantho now looked like a human woman, a pretty Asian-British lady with shoulder length jet black hair and almond shaped eyes. Even her voice had been modulated.

"And you're going to have to drop the 'chan' and 'tho', it's a big giveaway," said the Doctor, turning back to the monitor.

Chantho looked at Martha. "Ch-I mean…am I…like you now?"

"Well…you look human," said Martha, still a bit taken off guard by Chantho's metamorphosis.

Chantho held out her own hands in front of her and studied the backs of them. "How strange this is…you humanoids have so many fingers."

"They come in handy," said Martha. "Er…no pun intended."

"Doctor," said Jack. "Sam…he's been erased. Completely. It's like he never existed. Even checked Driveshaft's fan pages-his name's been replaced. Someone else is listed as drummer now."

"Just like I thought. The Master got rid of his old identity to make way for the new one," said the Doctor. "Now it's like Sam never was."

"Listen, Doctor, maybe you got your wires crossed. Maybe you actually sent the Master back decades, and he's made a life here," Jack suggested.

"No, you don't know him. He wouldn't wait that long. No, my guess is mind control. It's the Master's favorite parlor trick. The longest the TARDIS could've been here with him is…a year and a half, tops, which is plenty of time for the Master to worm his way into the British bureaucracy. But how could the entire English populace fall under his spell? The Master's…well, a master hypnotist, but even he's not that good. Martha," said the Doctor, turning to his companion. "Didn't you ever once realize Sam and Harold Saxon looked alike?"

Martha shrugged, idly drumming her fingers on the coffee table. "I didn't notice…not until you called my attention to it."

"Your attention…oh, of course!" The Doctor clapped his hand to his forehead. "A perception filter!"

"A what?" said Martha.

"It's a device that literally alters your perception of reality. Remember, like on my fobwatch? It kept me from seeing it for what it truly was. And the Master's watch had one too. Makes you ignore things that are right in front of you-Martha, can you stop that?"

"Stop what?" said Martha, still wrapping her fingernails against the wood of the table.

"That drumming!" said the Doctor.

"Hmm?" Martha then realized what she doing-almost as if breaking free of a trance. "Oh! Sorry. Didn't even-"

"-notice you were doing it," said the Doctor. "It's got to be a perception filter. And that drumming is part of it. Sam mentioned some drumming to me before he changed-"

"What, this?" Martha tapped the sequence of four on the table questioningly. "It's just a nervous tic," she said.

"There was a man in the square, a beggar…he had the same nervous tic as you," said the Doctor.

Martha looked worried. "You mean…he's in my head?" she whispered.

"He's in all our heads," said the Doctor. "I've been here too, I didn't notice him either."

"I was gonna vote for him," said Martha, horrified.

"Martha, do you remember anything about him?" the Doctor said. "What were his policies? What did he stand for?"

"I…can't remember. I just…liked the way he sounded," said Martha, distressedly.

"That's what it feels like, when you're hypnotized. Like you're relaxed…warm…safe. Like all you ever want to do ever again is listen to the sound of your entrancer's voice."

"That…is how it felt," Martha said. She shuddered. "Oh God, he's in my head, he's in my head-!"

"It's alright, Martha, you're alright," said the Doctor. "Now that you know he's there, he can't control you anymore."

Martha looked at him, shaking. "Are you sure?" she whispered.

"Yes. Positively."

Martha looked down at her hands. "And to think he was my friend," she muttered in disgust.

Now you understand how I feel, thought the Doctor sadly.

"But how, Doctor. How is Sa-the Master doing it? Getting in our heads? You said he's not a good enough hypnotist to control all of Britain," Jack pressed.

"There must be a device-"

Suddenly, a pop-up appeared on the computer screen. SAXON BROADCAST-ALL CHANNELS.

"Our lord and Master is speaking to his kingdom," said the Doctor, grabbing the remote to Martha's television and switching it on.

"Harold Saxon" was on the screen, sitting behind a desk, completely at home, as if he belonged there-was meant to rule. He shook his head gravely, his fingers interlaced in front of him. "Britain, Britain, Britain," he sighed. Despite his serious manner, the Doctor could see a slip of a smirk on his lip. "What extraordinary times we've had. Just a few years ago, this world was so small. And then, they came. Out of the unknown, falling from the skies. You've seen it happen-Big Ben destroyed. A spaceship over London. All those ghosts and metal men. The Christmas star that came to kill. Time and time again."

And you were there for every single one. Oh, how could I have been so stupid, the Doctor asked himself yet again.

"And the government told you nothing," the Master continued. "Well not me. Not Harold Saxon. Because my purpose here, today, is to tell you this. Citizens of Great Britain: I have been contacted. A message for humanity, from among the stars."

The Doctor raised his eyebrows. What was the Master up to?

Suddenly, the image switched to an obscured feed of a spherical object. "People of the Earth," said a sweet, childlike voice, and the viewers realized the voice was coming from the sphere-it was alive. "We come in peace," said the sphere. "We bring great gifts. We bring technology and wisdom and protection. And all we ask in return is your friendship."

"Ooh. Sweet," cooed the Master. "And this species has identified itself. They're called…the Toclafane."

"What?!" the Doctor burst.

"And tomorrow, they will appear," the Master continued. "Not in secret, but to all of you. Diplomatic relations with a new species will begin. Tomorrow, we take our place in the universe. Every man, woman, and child. Every teacher. And chemist. And lorry driver. And farmer. Oh, I don't know. Every…" The Master grinned wickedly. "Medical student?"

Their eyes widened and they all looked at Martha. Then the Doctor grabbed the television set and checked the back of it.

Beep-beep-beep-beep. There was a bomb!

"Everyone out!" The Doctor rushed Martha, Jack, and Chantho out, grabbing his long overcoat on the way out. The bomb began to chirrup at a higher pitch and tempo.

The foursome had just barely gotten out when Martha's apartment exploded. The street shook and rubble flew everywhere. Jets of flame shot out of the windows. People around them were screaming and running for cover.

"That's how we met. Me and the Master, when he was human. We were in a shop and it was overrun with Autons and I blew up the shop," panted the Doctor. "He's mocking me."

Chapter Text

Koschei emerged from the waters of the River Lethe, coughing and sputtering.

Torvic, still holding onto the scruff of his neck, laughed menacingly. "What's the matter, Oakdown? No respiratory bypass?"

Torvic knew perfectly well Koschei didn't possess that ability yet. It would come in after Koschei's first regeneration. Torvic had already regenerated once himself.

"Let me go!" Koschei coughed, gagging.

"Let me go, sir," jeered Torvic, pushing his head back under the water. Koschei gurgled helplessly and struggled against him, but to no avail.

Koschei gasped when Torvic pulled him back up. "Say it!" Torvic ordered.

"N-no!" Koschei barely had enough time to catch his breath before he was submerged again.

After exactly thirty seven and .03 seconds, Koschei realized Torvic wasn't letting up. The precious pockets of air were escaping his lungs faster and faster. Koschei fought against him desperately. Up above, he could hear the distorted sound of Torvic laughing.

Holy Rassilon, he's mad! He's trying to drown me! Koschei thought, panicking.

It was getting harder and harder to move. His vision was growing dark, and his higher brain functions were shutting down. This is it, Koschei told himself. I'm dying. I won't ever see my family again. Or Theta. Theta, my dearest, my darling one, my own…goodbye, my love.

Koschei's eyes closed, and he went very, very still.


"Everyone alright?" the Doctor called to his mates over the din in the streets.

"Fine, yeah, fine," said Jack, trying to catch his breath.

"Ch-I mean, yes. I am alright," replied Chantho.

Martha didn't answer. She was pulling out her mobile and punching in numbers. "Martha, what are you doing?!" the Doctor shouted.

"I let the Master into my home, and now he's tried to blow me up. He's met my family, he might be going after them next!"

"Don't tell them anything!" the Doctor urged.

Martha whipped around, her eyes flashing. "I'll do what I like," she exclaimed, spitting mad. She put the phone to her ear. After a moment, a look of relief crossed her face. "Mum! Oh thank God, you're there."

As Martha talked to her mother over the phone, Jack looked at the Doctor. "This must be hard for you," he said.

"Not now," said the Doctor.

"But-"

"I said." There was a dangerous note in the Doctor's voice. "Not now."

"Dad? Just say yes, or no," Martha was saying on the phone. "Is there someone else with you?"

There was a tense moment of waiting for the reply, then loud shouting over the phone. The Doctor presumed the answer was yes.

"Dad?! What's going on? Dad!" Martha cried into the phone fearfully. She ran over to her traveling partners and said, "We've got to help them!"

"That's exactly what he wants! It's a trap!" the Doctor said as Martha rushed over to her car.

"I don't care!" Martha screeched at him, angry, scared tears welling up in her eyes. She threw herself into the car, and the Doctor, Jack, and Chantho had no choice but to follow suit.


In the car, Martha called her sister, but apparently, she was being apprehended as well. "It's your fault, it's all your fault!" she screamed angrily at the Doctor.

The Doctor said nothing.

The car pulled up to the Joneses' house, where Martha's parents were being forced into a black Saxon van. A woman in a black business suit directed a small battalion of shooters to take aim at Martha's car. "Martha, reverse," the Doctor said.

The guard prepared to fire.

"Get out, now!" the Doctor called.

"Chantho, duck!" Jack exclaimed, coaxing the alien down and covering her with himself.

Martha quickly maneuvered the car as the bullets began to fly. One of them shattered the rear window and scattered shards of glass all over Jack's back.

"'The only place he can go is planet Earth'," Martha griped as they sped away. "Great!"

"Martha, listen to me, do as I say," said Jack. "We've got to ditch this car. Pull over. Now!" There was no friendliness in his tone. He was all Captain Harkness now.


They parked in a dark tunnel by a park. It had begun to rain. Martha was calling her brother. "Leo!" she said, relieved, when he picked up. "Oh, thank God. You've got to listen to me. Where are you?"

Chantho tapped Jack on the shoulder. "Will we be safe from this Saxon man?"

"For the time being…I hope," said Jack.

"Leo, just listen to me. Don't go home. I'm telling you. Don't phone Mum or Dad or Tish. You've got to hide…on my life, you've got to trust me. Go to Boxer's. Stay with him. Don't tell anyone. Just hide!"

Suddenly, Martha froze, stricken. "Let them go," she said. "Do you hear me, let them GO!"

There was only one person it could be.

The Doctor rushed forward and took the phone from her. He put it to his ear. "I'm here," he said flatly.

There was a brief moment of silence, then a breathy whisper: "Doctor."

The Doctor suppressed a shudder at the sound of Sam Tyler's voice on the Master's tongue. "Master," he said.

An audible swallow. "I like it when you use my name," said the Master, his voice rippling with pleasure.

"You chose it," said the Doctor, formal and cold. "Psychiatrist's field day."

"As you chose yours," the Master replied placidly. "'The man who makes people better'. How sanctimonious is that?"

"So…" said the Doctor. "Prime minister, then."

"I know!" purred the Master over the phone. "S'good, isn't it."

"Quite a step up from the boy who worked in a shop," the Doctor replied.

The Doctor could just visualize the Master's face growing stormy momentarily, then switching back to his signature smirk. "Oh. You liked my little…surprise party, did you?" said the Master. "Sorry about that. Just had to test to see if you were up to contending with me. I do so love a challenge."

"I know. All too well," the Doctor stated. "Who are those creatures? Because there's no such thing as the Toclafane. It's just a made up name like the Bogeyman."

"Do you remember all those fairy tales about the Toclafane when we were kids? Back home. You remember home, don't you, Doctor dear? The planet you destroyed."

"Stop it."

"What did it feel like, though? Two almighty civilizations burning." The Master took in a deep, anxious breath. "Oh, tell me, how did that feel? You must've felt like God. You certainly liked to boo-hoo about it. 'Oh poor me, I'm such a wretched little genocidal hypocrite-'"

"Stop it, just stop this!" the Doctor shouted. "How the hell are you even alive, anyway? The Daleks executed you. I carried your ashes home. Then you turned into a slug and possessed that Terminator-looking paramedic and tried to off me in frankly, one of your most sloppy schemes yet-"

"Ah, yes, I'd forgotten how rude this incarnation of yours can be at times," said the Master. "Yes, yes, and then my soul was trapped in the Eye of Harmony in your TARDIS. I remember, I was there, unfortunately. For centuries, I stewed in that cesspit. Until the Time War, that is."

"What happened to you?" the Doctor asked.

"The Time Lords only resurrected me because they knew I'd be the perfect warrior for a war of that magnitude."

"Romana would have never allowed that."

"Yes, well, by that time, your dear friend the honorable Lady High President had been impeached from office, so I understand. I do wish you'd stop interrupting me, my sweet, it's a terribly annoying habit. Anyway…I was there when the Dalek Emperor took control of the Cruciform. I saw it. I ran."

The Doctor could hear the fear in the other Time Lord's voice, even just from remembering.

"I ran so far." The Master's voice was soft, vulnerable. "Made myself human so they would never find me, because I was so scared."

"I know," said the Doctor, trying to keep the wobble out of his own voice.

"I suppose I have to thank you, Doctor, and Miss Jones. After all, without the two of you, my idiot human self would have never been driven to open the watch and let me out. I'd have lived and died as a human. Have you ever heard of something so boring in your lives?"

"Look…whatever you're planning. You can just call it off," the Doctor tried. "We can go away again, together, properly this time. Don't you see? All we've got is each other."

The Master snorted derisively. "Are you asking me out on a date?"

If that was what you wanted, the Doctor thought to himself helplessly. "You could stop this right now. We could leave this planet. We can fight across the constellations, if that's what you want, but not on Earth!"

There was a moment of silent consideration, and the Doctor actually got his hopes that the Master might surrender. Then…

"Too late."

"Why do you say that?" the Doctor said.

"The drumming," the Master whispered. "Can't you hear it? I thought it would stop, but it never does. Never ever stops. Inside my head, the drumming, Doctor. The constant…drumming."

"I could help you," said the Doctor, almost pleading. My God, he is mad. "Please, let me help."

"It's everywhere," muttered the Master. "Listen, listen, listen!...here come the drums. Here come…the drums."

The Doctor spied a man leaning on a brick wall next to an electronics store nearby, patting his thighs in the same, steady rhythm of four that had stricken Martha and the homeless man in the square. "What have you done?" the Doctor demanded. "Tell me how you've done this. What are those creatures? Tell me!"

"Ooh, look. You're on TV."

"Stop it. Answer me."

"No, really, you're on telly!" the Master insisted, chuckling lightly. "You and your little band, which, by the way, is ticking every demographic box. So, congratulations on that. Look, there you are."

The Doctor looked inside the store window at a TV for sale, displaying the news. It showed pictures of himself, Martha, Jack, and surprisingly, Chantho, in her human disguise. The headline was "Nationwide Hunt For Terrorist Suspects".

"Now, I don't know who the little Asian woman is with you, but whoever she is, you and your merry men are public enemies numbers one, two, three, and four. The whole of the country will be looking for you. Isn't that fun, pet? Now, go on, off you go. Why not start by turning to the right?"

The Doctor turned around. A security camera was pointed directly at him, drinking him in. "He can see us!" the Doctor stated, zapping it with his sonic screwdriver.

"Oh, you public menace!" the Master crowed. "Better start running. Go on…run!"

The Doctor looked at his friends despondently. "He's got control of everything."

"We have nowhere to go," said Jack.

"I am frightened!" said Chantho, huddling into Jack.

Martha was glaring at the Doctor. "What do we do? Doctor, what do we do?"

"Run, Doctor!" the Master taunted from over the phone. "Run for your life!"

The Doctor had no answers. So he said the only thing he knew to do.

"We run." The Doctor turned tail and took off, his trio following him.


They took refuge in an abandoned warehouse, where the Doctor knew the Master couldn't see them. They had to eat (Chantho's tea was all they'd had in 24 hours), so Martha went to the store to pick up some things. While the others could eat regular human food, Chantho was a bit difficult. However, being a bit like a bug, it turned out Chantho could live on normal Earth lettuce. So there they were, camped out. Hiding. Fugitives.

The Doctor was on Martha's laptop, doing research. "It still says the Jones family has been taken in for questioning. Tell you what, though. No mention of Leo," he reported to Martha optimistically.

"He's not as daft as he looks," said Martha, finally smiling, relieved to know that her brother was out of harm's way. Then, her face fell. "I'm talking about my brother on the run. How did this happen?"

"Nice chips," Jack mentioned through a semi-full mouth.

The Doctor tried one for himself. "Actually, they're not bad," he admitted.

The Doctor thought the last time he had eaten chips. It was when he had taken a job as a teacher at Deffry Vale School, when the staff had been slipping the children Krillitane oil to make them into geniuses. His old friend Sarah Jane Smith had been there as well, and K9. And Sam…

And of course, the time before that…


"Annie's the best thing that ever happened to me, honestly," said Sam, his radiant face gleaming in the rare London sunshine. "Although, this whole adventure we've had? It definitely comes a close second."

The Doctor smiled inwardly. "Yeah, well…you looked bored."

"Not bored," said Sam. "Just…lost, I guess. And besides, you looked like you didn't have a friend in the world. Everybody needs a mate…no, not like that! I meant…you know…a buddy. A pal. You know…"


The Doctor suddenly had a lump in his throat. He quickly swallowed it down.

Martha, Jack, and Chantho were all looking at each other expectantly. There was a giant, Time Lord shaped elephant in the room, and one of them had to bring it up, now that they were settled. Martha and Chantho looked at Jack pointedly. Jack glared at them briefly, then gave in and turned to the Doctor. The Doctor was gazing at his chips morosely.

"So, Doctor…who is he?" said Jack carefully. "I mean, who was he? Before…you know. How come the ancient society of Time Lords created a psychopath?"

"Yes," said Chantho. "Please, tell us. If it isn't too much to ask."

Martha piped up. "You two seemed to know each other. I mean, like, before…you know. Was he like, your colleague or-"

"A friend, at first," remarked the Doctor, popping another chip into his mouth.

"I thought you were going to say he was your secret brother or something," said Martha. Then she stopped for a moment, wrinkling her nose. "Which…would be really gross."

"You've been watching too much TV," said the Doctor, also looking perturbed. Then, he admitted, "But you know, we were very close when we went to school together. Some people actually thought we were related. But no."

"He was your…best friend?" Chantho asked.

The Doctor hesitated before answering. "Yes," he admitted. "Once. And then, not."

"Why not?" Martha said. "When the Master was…you know…you two got along like peas in a pod."

"Things changed. We both did. That planet, our home, our childhood…Gallifrey. It changes you. And not for the better, I think," said the Doctor distantly.

"But all the legends of Gallifrey made it sound so perfect," said Jack.

"Well, perfect to look at, maybe," said the Doctor reclining. "And it was. It was beautiful. They used to call it the Shining World of the Seven Systems. And on the Continent of Wild Endeavour, in the Mountains of Solace and Solitude…there stood the Citadel of the Time Lords." The Doctor closed his eyes, visualizing. "The oldest and most mighty race in the universe, looking down on the galaxies below. Sworn never to interfere, only to watch. Children of Gallifrey, taken from their families-the ones higher in society, that is; Gallifrey was a very class based planet, you see-at the age of eight to enter the Academy. And some say that's when it all began. When he was a child…that's when the Master saw eternity."

The three others were listening intently.

"As a novice, he was taken for initiation," the Doctor described. He could recall his own ceremony very well. The most terrifying moment in a Time Lord's life. "He stood in front of the Untempered Schism. It's a gap in the fabric of reality through which could be seen the whole of the vortex. You stand there, eight years old, staring at the raw power of time and space, just a child. Some would be inspired. Some would run away. And some would go mad…"


Koschei suddenly awoke, spitting water out of his mouth, coughing and gasping for air.

"Koschei!" A golden presence was hovering over him.

"Am I dead?" Kos asked slurringly. "Is this heaven? Are you an angel?"

There was weak, beautiful laughter from the angel, and then gentle patting at his cheeks. "No, love, it's me. You're fine. Look at me, Kos."

Koschei blinked several times, then the hazy image above him resolved into the face of his beloved best friend. "Theta," he breathed with relief. "Oh, you beautiful sight. Thank Omega, I thought I was dying."

Theta bit his lip, concernedly. "Well…actually…you were. You did."

"Wha…" Koschei was confused.

"No, love, don't-" Theta moved aside as Koschei dragged himself across the muddy grass, surely getting his school robes-which were now strangely small fitting on him-dirty. Borusa would punish him to the nth degree, but his limbs felt like gelatin. He simply couldn't stand properly at the moment. Koschei pulled himself to the water's edge and stared at his own reflection.

His hair was lighter now, not jet black like before, but brown, like milk chocolate, and had a natural wave to it. His eyes were smaller, and brown, instead of violet. His nose was a bit more pronounced, and his cheeks were less round.

"I've regenerated," he said, surprised at the sound of his new voice.

"Yes," said Theta, nodding. "I'm afraid so."

Koschei looked at Theta concernedly. "Oh God, they're going to kill me-Borusa-"

"We'll tell him that you fell in the river, hit your head, and drowned. It's all going to be fine."

"No," said Kos, shaking his head. "We have to tell him about Torvic. He tried to murder me, Thete. He might do it again to someone else-"

"We don't…have to worry about him anymore." Theta's voice was strained-nervous.

"Love? What's wrong?" Kos stroked Theta's bicep with his new left hand. It was bigger and not as dainty as the one before.

"I…I-I-I…oh, Rassilon save me, Kos, I di-didn't know what I was d-d-doing, I just…he was hurting you, and I…oh God, oh God-"

Koschei hugged his friend to him, stroking his curls the way he'd done in his old body. He cradled Theta and lulled him. Then he spotted something a few yards away.

Torvic, lying on the ground. Still.

"Theta…what's wrong with Torvic." Koschei said very, very quietly, all of a sudden very afraid.

Theta cried harder. "It w-was an aaaccident, Koschei, I swear, I didn't mean to-"

"Theta, what have you done," Koschei questioned urgently.

Theta sobbed, clutching Kos's robes so hard his knuckles turned white. Underneath the crimson caked on them.

Koschei suddenly felt very cold, and it had nothing to do with the wet robes he was sitting in.


The Doctor shuddered. "Brr. I don't know."

"What about you?" Martha inquired.

"Oh, the one of the ones that ran away," the Doctor replied, as if it were obvious. "I never stopped."


"Koschei, I just-lost control," said Theta, once he'd regained some semblance of collectedness. "I saw you, lying in the water, and I just…I jumped on him. I tackled him to the ground. Bringing my fists down on his face, over and over. At first he was laughing at me. Then he started telling me to stop. I didn't even noticed that my hands were covered in his blood. I couldn't hear him screaming over my own heartsbeats in my ears. It was until several minutes after he'd passed up, I realized his hearts had stopped beating. I kept waiting for him to regenerate, but I must have crushed the…the…the whatever lobe in the brain it is that controls regeneration, I don't know, I wasn't paying attention in class that day, oh God, Kos, I killed him, I killed-"

"It's okay, Theta, it's okay," said Koschei, hugging his friend tightly.

"I'm a murderer," whispered Theta in horror.

"No, you were just…trying to protect me," said Kos.

"We have to run away!"

"What good would that do? They'll only find you and drag you back."

"They're going to kill me," said Theta, shaking. "They'll lock me up inside Shada prison and they'll put me on the death sentence list-"

"No," said Koschei, with sudden clarity. "They won't."

"What?" Theta looked at his lover with wet eyes.

Koschei looked at him hard. "They can't condemn you if they don't find his body."

Theta leaned back, slightly alarmed.

"Go find some wood-logs, branches, stuff like that, and some kindling. I'll go up to the school and get what we need-matches, fuel, a perception filter to put around the area so no one sees the smoke."

"You…want to burn the body?" Theta asked shakily.

"Yes. We have to. Otherwise, they'll find him and you'll be arrested as a murderer," said Kos. "Look, just obey me, and you'll be fine. Trust me, Theta."

Theta was frozen, dazed, for a moment, then slowly nodded.

"Good." Koschei kissed his forehead. "Now go. And rinse that blood off your hands while I'm gone."


"Doctor," said Chantho, awakening him from his stupor. "You said the Master was manipulating the population somehow."

"Yes, I know. He's hypnotized them, somehow. But unless he stood directly in front of every citizen of Britain and-hold on. How do I still have Internet connection out here?"

Martha shrugged. "Archangel, I suppose."

"What?"

"Well, yeah. It's this free mobile Internet service, all over London and surrounding areas. I've got it, everyone's got it."

"And who launched this Internet service?" said the Doctor.

"Um…" Jack took the computer and typed on it, coming up with the answer. "Torchwood," he answered, grimacing.

"Oh no," said Martha.

"Look, it's gone worldwide," Jack pointed out. "They've got fifteen satellites in orbit. Even the other networks, they're all carried by Archangel."

"It's in the phones…oh, of course!" the Doctor exclaimed. He collected Martha's mobile and scanned it. "Told you he was a hypnotist. It's not a perception filter at all. Wait, wait. Hold on."

The phone played a sequence of four high pips in succession. "There it is. That rhythm, it's everywhere, ticking away in the subconscious."

"What is it, mind control?" said Martha.

"No, no, no, no, no, it's subtler than that. Any stronger and people would question it. But contained in that rhythm, in layers of code. Vote Saxon. Believe in me. Whispering to the world…aw! Yes! That's how he hid himself from me, because I should have sensed there was another Time Lord on Earth. I should have known way back. The signal cancelled him out." Clever bastard.

"Any way you can stop it?" Jack asked.

"Not from down here," the Doctor answered. "But now we know how he's doing it."

"And we can fight back," said Martha.

"Oh, yes!" the Doctor cheered.


Second sunset had passed. Koschei and Theta were silently watching the bright orange blaze.

"You must never tell anyone about this, Theta," said Koschei darkly.

Theta was quiet for a moment, then looked at Koschei. "How can you just be so calm, Koschei? I just killed a person. How can you just be so casual about it?"

Koschei continued to stare at the flames, their orange glow reflected in his new brown eyes. "Because I do what I have to to survive."

Chapter Text

The Doctor fiddled with the technology of Martha's laptop, her mobile, a radiation tracer that Chantho had on her, and the other little devices in their possession, and built tiny perception filters to wear on their persons. "Four TARDIS keys. Four pieces of the TARDIS, all with low level perception properties because the TARDIS is designed to blend in. Well, sort of. But now, the Archangel Network's got a second low level signal. Weld the key to the network and...Martha, look at me. You can see me, yes?"

"Yep," Martha replied.

The Doctor slipped on one of the keys around his neck on a string. "What about now?"

Martha tried to look directly at the spot the Doctor was standing in, but found her eyes wandering away of their own accord. She tried to focus, but when she did, she developed a slight headache, like being in a bright room with a hangover.

"No, I'm here. Look at me."

Martha could hear the Doctor's voice, but it sounded like background noise. "It's like I know you're there, but I don't want to know," she said, blinking hard.

"And back again," said the Doctor, taking off the key. "See? It just shifts your perception a tiny little bit. Doesn't make us invisible, just unnoticed." He handed out the rest of the keys and said, "come on."

They walked out into the night. "Don't run, don't shout," instructed the Doctor softly. "Just keep your voice down. Draw attention to yourself and the spell is broken. Just keep to the shadows."

"Like ghosts," said Jack.

"Yeah, that's what we are," said the Doctor. "Ghosts."


The Doctor, drifting through space with no destination or direction, Ace having returned home eons ago and Benny having left him for her own adventures, was receiving an incoming call from his estranged home planet.

"Oh, what is it now?" said the Doctor exasperatedly as the face of the sixth incarnation of the Lady High President of Gallifrey appeared on his communications monitor. "I've just put on a kettle for tea. If this is about anything less than the entrrropy of rrrreality unfurrrrling to doom us all, it can be put on the back burner."

"My dear Doctor, I assure you, this will pique your interests," said Romanadvoretrelundar, sounding ever stately and right at home in her esteemed position. "It's about an old friend."

"I have a lot of those; you'll have to be more specific," said the Doctor.

"It's about your oldest friend."

The Doctor froze. "What's he done now?" he said.

Romana seemed to hesitate.

"What is it?" asked the Doctor, clutching both sides of the screen. "Where is the Master?"

Romana sighed. "Dead. He's dead, Doctor."

The Doctor felt his heartsbeats stop at the horrid news. "What..."

"He was captured and put on trial. It was the Daleks. That whole Siralos ordeal."

"That's ludicrous," declared the Doctor. "The Daleks aren't the Master's peers. It hardly could've been a fair trial. There should have been a level jury. Someone there to defend him."

"The Daleks aren't exactly a race intent on justice," Romana pointed out. "The Master's a renown criminal, wanted on most planets for several charges for offenses against creation. Who in this entire universe would defend him?"

"'But who prays for Satan'," quoted the Doctor somberly.

He shouldn't feel sorrow. But the fact that was always true was that, once, the Master had been his friend. The person he loved most in all of reality.

After a moment, Romana spoke up. "The Daleks did allow him one last request," she said.

"I believe this is where I came in," said the Doctor.

"Yes. The Master has asked that you retrieve his ashes and bring them home, to Gallifrey."

The Doctor was unresponsive for a moment. "Knowing him, it's most likely a trap," he finally said.

"The Daleks have agreed to a ceasefire with you for the sojourn," said Romana.

"It's not the Daleks I'm worried about."

"He's dead, Doctor. What could you possibly have to fear from the Master?" Romana inquired.

The Doctor sighed. "Knowing him…he could have twenty schemes cooked up at least."


At Heathrow Airport, Air Force One was touching down, and "Mr. Saxon", his wife, and his entourage were waiting to greet the Commander in Chief. The Doctor, Martha, Chantho, and Jack were watching from afar.

The Doctor watched intensely as Sam Tyler's once kind, luminous smile was twisted into the Master's whimsical sneer as the President approached. His stomach lurched up his esophagus. He could sense the other Time Lord's psyche, the Master was so close; he could taste it on the tip of his tongue.

"Mr. President," simpered the Master as he shook his hand.

"Mr. Saxon, the British Army will stand down," ordered Arthur Winters. "From now on, UNIT has control of this operation."

"UNIT's branched out to the States? That's new," Jack muttered to the Doctor.

"They were sort of international the whole time, helping where they could. They were just based in England," the Doctor replied under his breath.

The Master shrugged sheepishly, playing dumb. "You make it sound like an invasion."

"The first contact policy was decided by the Security Council in 1968," Winters stated, "and you've just gone and ignored it."

"I was there," said the Doctor. "I helped construct it. A different time, a different body."

"Well, you know what it's like, new job, all that paperwork," said the Master to the President. "I think it's down the back of the settee. I did have a quick look. I found a pen, a sweet, a bus ticket, and uh…have you meet the wife?" He gestured to Missus Saxon, a la Vanna White.

Winters studied the Master hawkishly. "Mister Saxon, I'm not sure what your game is, but there are provisions at the UN to have you removed from office unless you are very, very careful. Is that understood?"

The Master smiled, held up a gloved finger ("Of course he'd wear leather gloves, that hackneyed old prat," the Doctor said), and gestured zipping up his lips.

"Are you taking this seriously?" Winters interrogated.

The Master nodded patronizingly, pursing his lips as to demonstrate just how serious he was.

The President nodded curtly. "To business. We've accessed your files on these…Toclafane. But first contact cannot take place on any sovereign soil. To that purpose, the aircraft carrier Valiant is en route. The rendezvous will take place there at eight AM."

The Master began phonating behind his tightly sealed lips, making odd "hmm-hmm-hmm-hmm" noises. "Oh, just look at him. He always was an irritating little swot, even in school," the Doctor griped. Martha shushed him.

"You're trying my patience, sir," said the President exasperatedly.

The Master made a show of "unzipping" his lips, then stated, "So America is completely in charge."

"Since Britain elected an ass-yes!" spat Winters, turning away. "I'll see you on board the Valiant."

"It still…will be televised though," said the Master as the President was walking away. "…won't it? Because I promised, and the whole world will be watching."

"Since it's too late to pull out, the world will be watching…me," the President replied, then marched away with his Secret Service men, got into his car, and drove away.

"Oh, he's not gonna like that," the Doctor murmured. "The Master not being the center of attention? He's gonna have some kind of revenge planned, that's for sure."

The Master shared a few words with his wife and staff, then they too departed. But before the Master climbed into his staff car, his eyes swept the area. The four fugitives held their breath as the Master's gaze passed over them. For an instant, he locked eyes with the Doctor, and the Doctor could swear the Master could sense his presence as well. Then the Master's gaze turned elsewhere, and the gang could breathe again.

"Did he see us?" Chantho asked.

"Don't think so," said the Doctor. "Still…best to stay on our toes. Just in case."

"Doctor," said Jack, touching his arm and pointing.

An ambulance suddenly pulled up to Saxon's party, and the Master grinned at the sight like a kid on Christmas morning. He smiled really big and called "Hi, guys!" as a small squadron emerged, dragging out none other than the Joneses, kicking and screaming.

The Doctor held onto Martha's wrist as she tensed at the sight. "Oh my God," she said under her breath.

"Don't move," instructed the Doctor.

"But they-"

"Don't."

Martha watched in quiet rage as her parents were forced into one of the Master's Range Rovers. "I'm gonna kill him," she whispered.

"Whaddya say I use this perception filter to walk up behind him and break his neck," Jack growled.

"He's a Time Lord, which makes him my responsibility. I'm not here to kill him," said the Doctor.

"Then why are you here?" Martha asked him, furious.

The Doctor honestly didn't have an answer. Had their scenario been different, had the Master not traveled with the Doctor for so long and been good, he would have said, "To save him." But now he knew: the Master was damned. He was irredeemable. Traveling with the Doctor, being his friend-it didn't make one bit of difference. The Master was evil, and that was all there was to it. "We stop him," said the Doctor decisively. "No violence. No weapons. We use peace, and patience. That's our way."

"Yeah, well look where peace has gotten us. My family's being held hostage by that lunatic," Martha spat.

"When you fight fire with fire, you just get bigger flames. Some big enough to burn whole civilizations. I know that from experience. Never again. Your loved ones are in danger, Martha, I know that, and I know I put them there. But I promise you, we will save them, and the rest of the world too. Please. You have to trust me."

Martha was sullen. But silent.

Jack was typing in on the little computer on his Vortex Manipulator. "Aircraft carrier Valiant-that's a UNIT ship, at 58.2 N, 10.02 E."

"How do we get on board?" Martha asked softly.

"Does that thing work as a teleport?" The Doctor asked Jack.

"Since you revamped it, yeah," said Jack, smirking. He pushed a few more buttons. "Coordinates set."

The four of them instinctively placed their hands on the Captain and flashed out.


Immediately, they reappeared in a boiler room. "Oh, that thing is rough!" Martha yelped.

"I've had worse nights!" Jack added, shaking the ache from his head.

"I do not wish to use that device for travel again," Chantho said, rubbing her pulsating temples.

Jack sighed. "Welcome to the Valiant. A ship for the twenty first century, protecting the skies of planet Earth."

Martha looked out the window. "It's dawn. We traveled forw