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Greenling Market

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“Do you miss him?”

The Doctor looked up from the console. “Miss who?” He tinkered with a regulator button and pretended he was only half listening.

“Turlough. Do you miss him? I mean, I’m still trying to get the hang of this travelling in the Tardis thing, but it seems to me that if you’re with someone for a while, you’d miss him when he’s gone.”

“I suppose.” He thumped one of the panels, and a display popped out. “As much as anyone. He did try to kill me, after all. But we got over that. I suppose.”

“Kill you.”

“Well, I blame the Black Guardian, really. No harm done. Not the first Companion to leave, not by a long ways.”

“Doctor, I don’t understand you. How many Companions have you had?”

“I’ve lost count, really. Companions come. Companions go.” He popped the panel back into place. “We’re here.”

*****

They walked through the stalls of the Fair. Peri picked up a little potted plant with variegated purple and blue leaves and a tiny golden flower that looked to be made of real gold. “Doctor, look at this. I’ve never seen anything like it. It’s amazing.”

But the Doctor looked down the row of stalls, his face white.

“Doctor? Are you listening?”

“Did you see him?” The Doctor asked. “It can’t be, but I’d swear...”

“Who?”

“Adric.”

“I don’t know who that is. Doctor?”

But the Doctor had run off in pursuit of the young man.

*****

“Doctor!” Peri darted between the stalls. “Doctor, don’t leave me!”

The inhabitants of the Greenling Market looked up as she ran by. The Market was generally a sedate affair. A dye dealer lifted her one eyebrow and muttered to her customer, ‘Human.” She received a knowing nod in reply.

Peri stopped by the end of a row of stalls. The woman standing in front of her was weeping.

“Mother,” Peri exclaimed. “It can’t be.”

The Doctor ran up behind the woman and spun her around. “Adric,” he said, looking at the tearful face of his old companion.

*****

Peri and the Doctor looked at each other, then back at the other person. “That’s my mom!” Peri said.

“No,” the Doctor replied. “That’s Adric.”

A wizened little man with bumpy orange skin ran up to them, slipping a cord and chain around the person in contention’s wrist. “There you are!” Suddenly, instead of a woman, or a young man, stood a tall, grey skinned creature without a face. “I’ve been looking all over the Market for you!”

“It’s a Callasian,” The Doctor exclaimed. “Of course.”

“What’s a Callasian?” Peri asked.

“It’s a creature from the planet Callus. It reflects your guilt back on you.”

“That’s exactly right.” The little man held out his hand. “I’m Doctor Belibrius.”

“And I’m the Doctor. This is my friend Peri.” He shook his hand. “You’re a psychiatrist, aren’t you?”

“Very perceptive, young man.”

The Doctor turned to Peri. “Callasians are used in psychotherapy. They help patients deal with guilt by giving them an opportunity to seek forgiveness.”

“Yes, but Brix here got away from me. It’s one thing to help patients deal with guilt issues, but quite another to have people confront the source of the guilt willy nilly and unexpectedly.” He tipped his pointy hat. “Well, I’ll be off now. Nice to meet you both.”

“But...” Peri watched the pair hurry away, “That was my mom. I would swear it.”

*****

Later, in the Tardis, The Doctor and Peri sat down for a cup of tea. “You feel guilty about leaving with me, don’t you?” he asked. “Do you want to go back to Earth?”

“No,” she said. “I may feel guilty but I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything. What about you?”

“What about me?” he asked.

“Do you want to go find this Adric person and apologize to him?”

“I can’t.” The Doctor sipped his tea. “He’s dead.”

“Oh.” Peri gave him a sympathetic look. “And you blame yourself.”

“And I blame myself.” The Doctor sat his tea down on the little table and ran back to the console. “Well, where next? There’s a big universe out there.”

“Doctor? You can talk about it if you want. I’ll be glad to listen.”

“Metabilis Three? Barcelona? Clom?” He twisted a dial. “Well, really, nobody wants to go to Clom.”

“I’m sure you did everything you could.”

“Peri.” The Doctor looked into his companion’s eyes. “Travelling with me. It’s not always safe.”

“I figured that, Doc. I’m not stupid. But I’m sure you’ll do the best you can to look out for me. I think that’s all anyone can ask.”

“Well,” he said, I can’t guarantee, but I’ll try. Now, how about some place I haven’t visited in a while. Androzani Minor?”

Peri shrugged. “Works for me.”