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At Last a Dragon

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"Security, nothing to worry about." The man in the pinstripe suit and trainers flicked open a wallet to flash his ID. "Has anyone seen anything green, about this long-" he held his hands out at shoulder width "-slithering about the ventilation system?"

Two of the three men in the room were lazing on a sofa, drinking beer. One, though, was on an easy chair, idly strumming a guitar, an open bottle of beer on the floor by his feet. All three had long hair and all three looked up when the stranger appeared in the doorway. All three shook their heads in answer to his question, but only one gave the stranger a long, hard look. His name was John and he was a rock star. He didn't believe in Father Christmas, the Tooth Fairy or the Doctor.

The Doctor, for it was he, hadn't noticed John's interest. "Scream if you see anything," he said, and turned back into the corridor.

Placing his guitar on the chair, John followed him. "You're not dressed like security," he said, falling into step with the Doctor. "And why does your ID say 'Trust me, I'm the Doctor'?"

The Doctor took his ID back out of his inside jacket pocket and frowned at it. "It's being very temperamental these days. But I am the Doctor." He slapped the wallet shut and turned his gaze back on John. "And I think something very dangerous is in this building. Well, mildly dangerous. Depending on how you define dangerous."

John shook his head, then had to jog to catch up with the Doctor, who, having recovered from his contemplation of his ID, turned out to be a fast walker. "I don't believe in the Doctor."

"Don't believe in..." The Doctor in question gave John a look over his shoulder, as if John had said something crazy, like he didn't believe in music. "Not everything you read on the internet is true." He opened a door and peeked in. It was the ladies toilets, which were fortunately empty.

"The what?" John frowned.

"After your time. Never mind." He waved a hand.

John decided to ignore that for now on the basis that it didn't make sense. This so-called Doctor sounded crazy. "Are you a fan? You heard our latest single and decided to pretend to be him?"

The Doctor stopped now and put on a pair of black-rimmed glasses to stare at John. "Who are you?"

"Johnny Chess."

"Never heard of you." He shook his head and folded his glasses back into a pocket. "Are you a fan?"

"When I was younger. But then I grew up and knew the stories couldn't be true."

The Doctor, though, wasn't really listening. He was bent over, his ear to a vent low down on the wall. "Can you hear that?"

John mirrored him, getting down on his knees. "It sounds like there's a snake in there." But they were in London. There weren't snakes that big in London. "And it's coming this way."

"Out of the way!" The Doctor pushed him roughly aside, John struggling to keep his balance and see what was going on. The vent's screws were the work of a few minutes with the sonic screwdriver and the moment the vent fell off the wall, something green slithered out of it. The Doctor immediately pointed his screwdriver at it and it went still.

"What--" John got as far as, before the Doctor answered a question he hadn't been about to ask.

"Only stunned. Got to get it back to Goros IV." He bent and picked it up, cradling it in his arms. "It's just a kitten really, but I couldn't leave it there. It would have chewed through all the cables in the building. And then eaten the building. Assuming its mother hadn't found it first." He tickled the creature under what might have been its chin, had it not been long and featureless. "Come on you."

Although the Doctor hadn't been talking to him, John still followed him. Whatever was going on it didn't seem like this man was a threat and John was keen to see what he might do - and say - next. It was almost like his parents' stories. Except they couldn't be real. No one could travel through space and time in a police box.

Around the corner they reached the stage and John stopped dead in the wings, the Doctor going on ahead. There definitely hadn't been a police box on the stage when the band had been on it. He'd suggested it as a prop, but had been voted down as too confusing. So this couldn't be a pretend TARDIS, it was an actual TARDIS. Which didn't exist. Or did it?

As the Doctor manoeuvred the kitten alien so he could get a key out of his pocket, John managed to stir himself enough to mutter, "It's bigger on the inside."

The Doctor turned, the key in the lock, one hand still on it. "Usually people wait until they've seen it before they say that. Who did you say you were?"

"Johnny Chess. It's my stage name. I'm really John Chesterton."

An expression of realisation spread across the Doctor's face and he grinned wildly, madly. "John Chesterton! I knew I recognised that face. You have your father's eyes and your mother's nose."

John had heard that before, but he hadn't told the Doctor who his parents were and he knew they hadn't married until after those two years when they claimed they'd been with the Doctor. Who wasn't as mythical as he sounded, despite not being anything like his parents had described.

"How would you like a trip to Goros IV?" The Doctor pushed open the door, to show the impossibly big control room beyond. "I can have you back just after you left."

"No, you can't." John smiled and stepped inside the TARDIS.