Author: Jonn Wolfe
Spoilers: The Time War Aftermath, Sam is alone
Humor: A Leap in Time, Saves Nine.
— Part One —
‘December 8th, 1941′ was what the date on the newspaper said. But, the headline on it was what grabbed Sam’s attention:
“CONGRESS DECLARES WAR”
“Oh boy,” he muttered to himself. The last time he went outside of his own life time, it was when he switched places with Al in that freak accident. “Wait, that’s not right. I was my own grandfather too, wasn’t I?”
He looked around, trying to get his bearings. He recognized the city even without the tabloid in his hands. This was Dallas, Texas. More importantly, he’d been to this particular street before under horrific circumstances. He shuddered as he remembered nearly losing his mind when he pulled the bolt back in that rifle.
“Dealy Plaza,” his voice whispered, dripping with dread. “God, I hate this place.”
It was late. The stars overhead were swathed with wispy clouds. He checked his watch and 9:36PM blinked back at him. One of the few good things that changed when he decided to never go back was that his watch always told him what time it was, no matter when he was.
A black Ford trundled down the street. A wry grin flashed over his face as he realized that it was a 1939 model, which was more of a box on wheels than a car. He waved back at the man as he passed him.
“Now, what pulled me here?” he thought to himself out loud. This was his third trip without Al. The previous two times he ran into the very people he was supposed to be there for within ten minutes of his arrival. The car that passed him was a possibility, and he kicked himself for not thumbing a ride.
His musings were interrupted as a weird noise filled his ears. It almost sounded like an engine with a serious case of vapor lock. He turned around and saw a flashing light coming from behind the knoll.
He jogged up the hill and looked over the fence. There was no way to tell what he was looking at, as the wind had picked up, blowing hair all over his face. After he pushed it up with his left hand, he thought he was losing his mind again. A blue box started to appear before his eyes right next to the train shack, from out of nowhere.
Against his better judgment, he hopped the fence and ran toward the bizarre thing. When he got within ten yards of it a door opened up, and someone fell out of it. He stopped cold when he saw the man, and almost wretched from the sight of him.
His medical degree took over and he started to assess the man’s injuries as soon as he knelt over him. Multiple burns on the left side. The face looked to be beyond a third degree burn, as the nasal bone was exposed. The upper lateral cartilage was completely burned away, as was his left eye. Everything he saw screamed at him that this was hard radiation exposure, but the fact that they were in the early forties battled that diagnosis in his mind.
The mans arms were bent upward at the elbow, and his gnarled hands were shaking uncontrollably. His jacket and the rest of his upper clothing were crumbling with the movement. Raspy words rattled through bloody teeth, repeating the word ‘no’ over and over.
“Try to stay calm, I’m a doctor,” he soothed. However, the man either wasn’t listening, or couldn’t hear him. He glanced at the side of his head and saw a melted ear, realizing that the latter was the case.
Sam felt at his pockets, searching for anything to help. In frustration, he looked to the sky and whispered, “What am I supposed to do?”
A light from below drew his gaze back down. Rippling, blue white light cascaded from every bit of exposed skin. Both enveloping and emenating from the man. Startled, Sam stood up and backed away from him as he saw a miracle happen right before his eyes.
Every burn started to fade. The nose and ears grew back. What hair was left on his head fell out and was being replaced with much shorter growth. Hands snapped and popped as they straightened themselves and grew new flesh. What was most astonishing was that he looked as if he was growing taller.
Sam’s mouth was hanging open with a shout stuck in his throat. The light faded and left a whole man lying in front of him. He watched as the man raised his hands to look at them. He was stuttering, and there were tears streaming down the sides of his face, filling his re-grown ears.
“N… n… n-nuh… nuh… n-Nuh… NOOOOOOOOOOOO!”
— Part Two —
A beat cop heard the screaming and came running, “What’s going on?”
Sam spoke without thinking, “His little brother was at Pearl.”
“Oh God, I’m sorry,” he said as he put his billy club back in its holster,
The Doctor was sitting up now, rocking back and forth with his head in his hands. “Jus’ g’way,” he muttered through his sobbing.
The officer was standing beside Sam. The concern and pity was heavily creased in his weather-beaten face. “Does he have anywhere to go?” he asked softly.
“I’ve got him, officer,” Sam said, just as quiet. “Thinking about taking him to a bar for a couple.”
The Doctor turned to face them and shouted, “I SAID SOD OFF! BOTH OF YOU!” The anguish in his voice pulled at both of their hearts for different reasons.
They looked at each other and the cop made a suggestion, “Better make it three.” Sam nodded in agreement as the cop walked away, returning to his rounds muttering, “Damn Japs.”
Sam just stood there with his hands in his pockets while the Doctor wept. The more heavy sobs died out into slight whimpering before he spoke again. “Oh fantastic. On top of everythin’ else, I ‘ave to get new shoes. Bugger all.”
When Sam looked at the Doctor’s feet, he saw what he was talking about. Whatever his old shoe size was, it was a lot smaller than what it had become. His toes had forced their way through the seams.
“We need to get you some new clothes too,” Sam said rather quietly.
The Doctor looked at his ruined jacket, then turned to face Sam. His eyes were red and swollen from crying, and his face was wet from all the tears. “Why are you still here?” he asked him with more than a little contempt in his voice.
Sam took a step forward and knelt beside him again, “Because you were horribly burned by radiation that has yet to be invented, and now you‘re not.” He took the Doctor’s wrist and started to take his pulse, but he let go suddenly when he felt something that wasn’t quite normal. It was almost like there was a repetitious stutter.
The Doctor grinned out of one side of his mouth, “T’weren’t expectin’ that, were you?”
“I’m a bit more used to the unexpected than I’d like to admit,” Sam replied, still not totally believing everything that happened. “But, you’re not from around here are you?”
“Radiation burns in the forties tell me that you’re not from this time either,” the Doctor perked a little at that, “What I really want to know, is how you got here.” The look on Sam’s face told the Doctor volumes.
The Doctor was looking at Sam’s clothes, noting their nineties flair. “And if you know that, then yooou aren’t from this time either,” he slurred.
“I know you’re face, but I can’t place your name,” the Doctor stood up, coughed and felt a wave of nausea wash over him.
Sam saw him wobble and steadied him by the shoulder, “Easy. I don’t know what I just saw, but it had to take a lot out of you.” He placed his hand on the Doctor’s forehead, “Think you’ve got a touch of fever, too.”
“I’m all right Harry, It’ll go away in a minute.”
“It’s Sam, actually.”
“Sam? I don’t remember a Sam,” The Doctor blinked a bit more than was normal, and he looked to be quite out of it. “Are you quite sure you’re not ‘Leftenant’ Sullivan?”
“Positive,” concern and worry shot through Sam like lightning. Whomever this Brit was, he was starting to get delirious. He noticed the changing accents, but filed that away in the back of his head for later. The most important thing to do now was to get this man to a hospital. The irregular pulse worried him most of all.
The Doctor looked at his crumbling sleeves, “Oh right. Clothes.” He took a few staggering steps and leaned against the TARDIS.
“We need to get you to a hospital first and have you checked out.”
“Oh don’t be shilly. I’m perfectly all right.”
“No you’re not. Now listen to me. I’m a doctor.”
“You may be a doctor, but I’m The Doctor. The genuine article…” he trailed off, lost in thought. “I could’ve sworn I’ve had this conversation before.” He stepped into the TARDIS and muttered, “Damn.”
Sam started after him, “Come on, ‘doctor’ we need to get you…” he froze both mid-step and mid-sentence as he saw the inside.
The Doctor was standing before a burnt out console in the center of an immense room. It looked like a cross between Victorian era, and some sort of stone monastery that Sam didn’t recognize.
“You’ve seen better days, old friend,” the Doctor said quietly.
Sam stood there mentally going over equations in his head. “The physics behind this are incredible.”
The Doctor waved his hand to the side, brushing away the comment, “Yes, yes. It’s bigger on the inside. You’ve seen this before Adric.”
Sam glanced outside and looked for anyone that might have seen them, then closed the door. “It’s Sam.”
“Right, right. Of course.”
“I wish I had one of these,” Sam whispered as he realized what this was... or at least the possibility of what it could be.
The Doctor went to another door on the far side of the room. “Not to worry, Jamie, I can take you wherever and whenever,” his accent had changed again, “just not from here. Come along now. I can get changed on the way.”
Sam wasn’t about to let him out of his sight.
— Part Three —
“Just how big is this thing?”
The Doctor had led Sam through the twisting corridors of the TARDIS for about a half an hour. They were in an elevator of some sort. The Doctor had changed clothes, and was now wearing a leather jacket that looked like it came from the fifties. It kind of reminded Sam of a leather pea coat.
“I’m not quite sure, dear boy,” his accent had changed again, “even I haven’t gone through everywhen in here.”
The lift stopped and they got out. “Shouldn’t be too far now, Ben,” he paused and shook his head, “Sam.”
“At least let me take your vitals,” Sam asked again for the umpteenth time.
The Doctor stopped and turned around abruptly. He grabbed Sam’s hand and placed it on the left side of his chest for a few seconds, then on the right side. “Hearts-beat normal.” He then put Sam’s hand on his own forehead, “Temperature normal.” He dropped his hand, “Satisfied?”
Sam was more than a little startled at all of that, especially the ‘heartsbeat’. “He’s not human. He can’t be,” he thought as The Doctor turned back around and stomped down the corridor.
“No, I’m not.” Sam blurted, “What are you?”
“Annoyed,” he muttered, then shouted, “Yes I know he means well. Shut up, old fool!”
Sam stopped in his tracks, “That’s what I’m worried about right there, doctor.” The Doctor turned around with a quizzical look. Sam tapped the side of his head, “You’re not all there.”
The Doctor rubbed his temple, “That’s the problem, dear boy. There’s too much of me in here.”
“What do you mean?”
“I’ve done this before. Changed, I mean,” he explained, “My people’s life span is quite long. After a while, the body has to remake itself to keep going. We call it regenerating,” He held his stomach and belched acrid air, “I almost didn’t get to this time. I shouldn’t have…” tears welled up again, “Enough of this! Come along, Benton, we’re here.”
They entered a room that was similar to the one that Sam first saw, only it was even bigger. There were curving support beams along the walls. And, in the center of the room there was another console. This one looked considerably older than the other one. Sam thought that this must be some sort of backup control center.
Sam looked to the far side and saw the inside of the police box door. He looked behind him, then back to that door again. “Didn’t we just…”
“Yeah, I know,” the Doctor interrupted, “There’s more tha’ one exit, but it’s the same exit.”
“How do you not come into multiple spaces from that door?” Sam asked, “The quantum mechanics just don’t fit.”
“Quantum? He said his name was Sam. I know who he is, but I just can’t place it. God, I can’t think straight.” He thought to himself, then said aloud, “The TARDIS knows what door’s supposed to open.” He sat down at the couch-chair next to the console, and sighed heavily as his stomach turned over again. This time it growled a complaint.
“Maybe we should get you something to eat.”
He thought about that for a moment, “You’re probably right. Know where there’s a pub ‘round ‘ere?”
“I think so. Might not be built yet, but we can find out.”
He stood up again with some minor difficulty, “Lead on then. This is your town.”
Sam frowned. “Not exactly.”
The place had been built, but it was under different management. Possibly the original. Instead of the sandwich shop he remembered, it was an all night diner. One lady was waiting tables as well as running the register. There was a heavy set balding man in the back keeping the burners warm.
The waitress, whose name-tag said ‘Sheila‘, was a woman that looked to be in her mid thirties. Her hair was in the between stage of falling out of curl, even though it looked like she had plastered her hair with copious amounts of hair spray. She looked quite tired, and it had to be close to the end of her shift. She sat them down in the booth with a smile, took their order – ham and eggs for Sam, and fried chicken and scones (biscuits) for the Doctor – then left them with their water.
“You haven’t told me your name yet,” Sam prodded.
“The Doctor… I think.”
“I cannae remember anything else.”
“Well, until you remember, I’ll just call you John. Is that ok?”
“Wait,” his memory sparked, “I went by that once. Smythe? No, Smith. Jonathan Smith. That’s right. I had to use a name with UNIT.”
“Got it in one,” Sam smiled. “Now, what happened to you?”
The Doctor’s face fell, “Fightin’. Lots and lots of fightin’.”
The Doctor nodded. His eyes started to water up again.
“Is it still going on?”
He shook his head and rubbed his temples, then started rocking in his seat.
“You ok honey?” Sheila had come to the table without them noticing. She had two cups and a coffee decanter in her hands.
Sam looked up at her like he‘d been slapped, “Shell shock,” this came a bit easier to him, “He’s on furlough from Britain.”
She set the stuff on the table and rubbed the Doctor‘s head. “Oh honey, I’m so sorry. Here,” she took out the ticket and struck their order, “this meal’s on me.”
“You don’ ‘ave ta do that.”
“Shush.” She leaned down and kissed the top of his head, then gave him a top down hug. She looked over to Sam and mouthed the words, “Take care of him, Sam.”
He just blinked at her. He didn’t remember mentioning his name.
She winked at him and stood up to pour their coffee.
The Doctor took his cup, “Thanks,” he said, looking up at her and reading her name-tag, “Thank you Sheila.”
“You’re welcome honey. Jeff’s about done cookin’. Shouldn’t be a couple more minutes.” She walked back to the counter.
Sam followed her with his eyes. When she sat back down at her stool, she looked at him then inclined her head toward the Doctor. She nodded to Sam and tapped the clock that was on the counter.
It finally clicked in his head. Sheila was another ‘helper’. He didn’t know the real word for them, but the other ‘Al’ back at the day he was born was one of them too. That Al ran a bar in a coal mining town, and Sam was starting to wonder if there was a relation between helpers and wait staff.
He smiled at her and felt relieved. He‘d found who he was supposed to help.
Looking back to ‘Doctor Smith’, his face fell. The Doctor was looking at the table with his face all screwed up in another fit of agony. He was red faced from gritting his teeth.
“Hey, hey,” he reached over the table and put his hand on the Doctor’s shoulder, “it’s going to be ok.”
“They’re dead,” he whispered.
“All of them. They’re all dead. I’m the only one left, and it’s my fault,” tears were spilling over his cheeks.
“Don’t say that.”
The Doctor looked at him, “IT’S MY FAULT! MY FAULT! I DID IT!”
Sam gripped the Doctor’s shoulder tighter, “STOP.”
“I have to stop it. I have to stop m‘self. I can’t let them die!” he shouted.
The Doctor shot out of the booth and ran out the door. Sam got up and looked at Sheila.
She yelled at him, “GO!”
Sam bolted out the door after him.
“Thank you Lord. Thank you,” Sheila wiped her eyes with a napkin. “Good luck son.” She smiled and was enveloped in a familiar blue shine, then disappeared.
An elderly woman came out from the back. She noticed the coffee mugs on the table and muttered to herself, “I thought I cleaned that up.” She went over to the table and saw that the mugs were half full.
“Jeffrey!” she hollered to the back of the diner, “Was there anyone here?”
The man stuck his head out through the dinner hole and said, “No sweetheart, the bell didn’t ring.”
Amanda looked at the bell hanging over the door and saw that it was still. “Hmph.”
Sam chased the Doctor through the streets of Dallas, “Doctor! STOP!”
The Doctor only stopped himself when he got to the TARDIS, using it as his brake. He fished out the key from his pocket and unlocked the door. Turning, he saw Sam coming after him, and went inside.
Sam was at the door as it was closing. He shoved his arm through and caught it before it locked.
The Doctor’s face was dark. “You don’t want any part o’ this. Go ‘ome. Live a ‘appy life. Forget about me.”
“I can’t do that, Doctor, and you know it.” He was riled now. The run had him sweaty and a bit more pissed than he would’ve liked. He shoved his way into the TARDIS and shut the door behind them both.
Sam tried to reason with him, “You have to stop this. Not every past can be changed.” The irony of that statement wasn’t lost on him either.
The Doctor walked over to the console, spun a knob, punched some coordinates in, and pulled a lever. The central column began pistoning up and down, but the sound was off. It sounded more strained than normal. His head snapped to the left when he heard Sam shriek in pain.
The blue energy field was radiating from Sam. He was bent over, with his fingers curled into a claw-like state similar to what happens when the body is being electrocuted. He was thrust up off the floor, and arced backwards as a bolt of lightning shot out of him and hit the center column. His initial shriek turned into a wail of pain.
“No-no-no-no-no-no!” The Doctor pushed the lever back forward and aborted the trip.
The bolt stopped immediately, and Sam fell to the floor as the light left him. He was on all fours, panting huge gulps of air. “You have… to think… about… what you’re doing,” he said through his gasping.
The Doctor stared at him with his mouth agape. “What was this man? Who is this man? Sam… quantum physics…quantum energy… omigod.”
“BECKETT!” he shouted, “Doctor Samuel Beckett! I knew I recognized you! You’re that idiot that sent himself through a particle accelerator! Don’t you know what that does? Don’t you realize that form of time travel is dangerous? You get unstuck. You fall out… you…” His voice trailed off as Sam looked up with a huge grin on his face.
“I know that now. But you have to admit… it’s one hell of a ride.”
“You’re string theory is wrecking my ship. Get out!”
“Not until you stop and think about what you’re doing. I may be a moron, but I’m not the one using time for his own purposes.”
“Shut it! Get out!” The Doctor pulled Sam to his feet and shoved him out the door. Sam fell onto a snow bank. He looked around and saw the Chicago skyline in the distance.
“Stay out and keep your antiprotons off my ship!”
The TARDIS door slammed shut. The grinding noise started and the box faded away.
“Oh no you don’t, ‘Doctor‘.” A shrill noise pierced the air as the quantum blue energy covered his body.
The chase was on.
— Part Five —
Sam thoughts were rapid and almost incoherent. “Oh God… Oh God… Oh God… This hurts! Concentrate. I have to concentrate. Think of his face. His face. His face. A little help here, please…” He could see nothing but blue. White streaks were everywhere. It hurt his eyes, so he tried to keep them shut.
“His people are gone. (I know that feeling.) He’s alone. He’s hurting… Bad. That’s It! His Pain… Focus on his grief.”
“You’re doing good kid.”
“Was that me?”
“There he is!”
The TARDIS bucked and thrashed, knocking the Doctor about. It was all he could do to just hang on. He swung the monitor up and turned a dial. Readings flashed across its screen, as well as a blue blob of energy trailing him in the vortex.
“I don’t believe it. He’s followin‘ me?”
The TARDIS squelched a protest. He beat his fist against the console with a frustrated shout. The piston slowed down and stopped with a thud.
April 15th 1960 – Melbourne, Australia
It was simultaneous: The TARDIS materialized in the alley just as Sam leapt in. He was holding his stomach. It did the Watusi and he bent over, giving back Sheila’s coffee and Mrs. Feldman’s prize ham that he had before this whole mess started.
On the monitor, the Doctor was watching him wipe his mouth. “How – did – he – do – it? You cannae control somethin‘ like tha’. It’s pure chaos.”
Sam was doing his best to breathe slowly when the door to the TARDIS opened. The Doctor looked out at him with a confused look on his face. “How?”
Sam looked up at him from the mess on the pavement. “Your pain calls me,” – breath – “I can’t help it,” – breath – “As of right now,” – breath – “you’re my mission.”
The Doctor’s face went dark with rage, “Burn in hell.”
“Been there,” – breath – “did that.”
“See if you can follow me now, Bucket.” The door slammed shut.
Sam hung his head. “How in the hell did he know that nickname? I hate that name.”
The TARDIS started up again and disappeared. Sam was still crouched, concentrating. He stood up sharply and looked straight up. “He left the planet. How the hell am I …”
The energy enveloped him again. This time electricity sparked and arced around him, pot marking the concrete and brick that was close by… then he was gone.
Sam was screaming at the top of his lungs. This was unlike any leap that he’d ever done before, and it felt like he was being shredded alive. “Make it stop! Make it stop! Please God, Almighty, Make It Stop!”
He felt a hand on his shoulder and a voice in his head. “Calm down. Don’t fight it. Ride it. Ride his wake, Sam. Ride his wake.”
“WHO ARE YOU?”
“Open your eyes and see for yourself.”
Sam opened his eyes slowly. He thought that He was finally answering his prayers, but the face that he saw was his own. The lock of grey was all over his head now. His face was old. So old. “Dad?”
The face smiled at him. “Nope.”
“I’m you, Sam, some thirty years in your future. This is the only place I can talk to you. It’s usually brief, but this is a rather long leap.”
“Who’s been leaping me?” he rethought the question and corrected himself, “us?”
“Exactly. The landing’s going to be a bit rough.”
Sam materialized inside an ornate chamber. There were magnificent, golden tapestries on the walls. Plush, multi-coloured carpet covered the entire floor. If he didn’t know any better, it would have made a good stadium for a football game, possibly two for that matter. He saw the TARDIS in a corner way off in the distance. There were people everywhere. He looked down and saw that he was standing on the edge of some stairs.
Someone walking down those same stairs couldn’t avoid bumping into him. Sam pitched forward, falling thirty feet. When he hit the floor, the carpet depressed about a foot down, cushioning the impact.
His breath was knocked away and he couldn’t move. As he lay there gasping, he felt several hands grab him from all over. Four of the wildly dressed people pulled him out of the carpet.
“Are you all right?”
“Sit down. Don’t get up.”
“Someone get some di-hydrogen oxide.”
“I’m so sorry, I’m so very sorry,” a feminine voice said. He was curled up, holding his stomach, and doing his best to get his diaphragm to start working again.
He felt an arm go around his shoulders, and the lady’s voice was in his ear now, “Breathe, c’mon now. You can do it. I’m so sorry. You came out of nowhere.”
“Wh-where,” – stuttered breath – “is the,” – breath – “doctor?” He was getting real tired of talking like this.
“A physician?” A deep baritone sounded from his left, “I don’t think you need one. The floor is designed to… Oh. Him.”
A square glass of water was put in his hand as he looked up to see the Doctor walking up to him. His face was a mask of confusion and awe. Sam sipped at the water and noticed it’s distinct lack of flavor.
“How did… What did you… How…” the Doctor stuttered. He was completely flummoxed. And, for one of the very rare times in his life, he was utterly speechless.
Sam looked at him from under his brow, “I already told you. You’re my mission.”
“Later.” He looked up and behind Sam, “Mr. President, I have to talk to you. It’s about the Daleks.”
— Part Six —
Sam had listened to unfamiliar words such as ‘Daleks’, ‘Gallifrey’, and ‘Time Lords’, but he about came out of his skin when he heard the phrase ‘Time War’.
“If what you’re telling me is true, Doctor, how is it that you are here?”
The President had a valid point, and the Doctor knew it. “I’m brilliant and creative,” it was an honest, yet nowhere near a humble response, “Not to mention all the cross patching I did to the TARDIS,” he thought to himself.
The President, a man with a stark look and raven hair that was a counterpoint to his golden headwear, was nonplussed, “Be that as it may, Doctor, your reputation gives you a less than stellar level of believability.”
The Doctor leaned over and whispered something into the President’s ear. It took less than two seconds to say, but it got the effect that was needed. The President’s eyes almost bulged out of their sockets.
Mouth agape, the President asked, “Which regeneration are you?”
The Doctor began counting on his fingers. “Ninth,” he said after a minute of second guessing himself. “I think.”
Again, the President’s face registered shock, “Ninth? That would put you approximately…” he trailed off as he did some calculations in his head.
“Roughly five hundred years ahead of you,” the Doctor finished his statement for him, “give or take a century.”
“I will address this matter immediately.” The President then looked to Sam, who was still nursing his glass of water, “I see you still have yet to warn your assistants about proper decorum.”
Shaken out of his reverie, Sam looked up, “Assistant?”
Everyone bowed as the President left the Great Hall.
The Doctor smiled, “This is fantastic! They’ll take care of everything!”
Sam stood up with the help of the woman who had knocked him over, “We need to talk, Doctor.”
“Yes, of course! We can talk about anything you like now.” He was giddy, almost jubilant.
The woman spoke up, “Doctor, you haven’t introduced your friend.”
The Doctor looked at her and did a double take, “Romana! How did you get out of E-Space?”
The Doctor blanched, “Oh right, never mind.”
He put a hand on each of their shoulders, “Romanadvoratrelundar, meet Doctor Samuel Beckett, of Earth.”
Romana looked at Sam, “Pleased to meet you, Samuel. Please forgive me,” she paused as something occurred to her, “Doctor, is this…”
“Yes,” the Doctor beamed.
“Doctor Beckett, it is an honor to meet you. I am so terribly sorry for before.”
Sam shook her outstretched hand, “It’s all right. My being here wasn’t exactly planned.”
“Forgive us Romana, but Sam and I have to talk. Would you mind?”
“Yes, of course.”
The Doctor led Sam through the throng of the Great Hall. “Well, what do you think of my home planet?”
“The fashion sense is a bit weird, but it’s ok I guess.”
The Doctor grinned wide, “Yeah, it’s one of the things I rather miss.”
“Are we really on another planet? This isn’t earth in some far flung future, is it?”
“Ah, no. This is Gallifrey, home of the Time Lords – and most definitely not Earth.” The Doctor was still smiling, and thoroughly pleased with himself. “I didn’t think I would see it again.”
Something nagged at Sam’s gut. He couldn’t place it, but something was still wrong. It was almost as if there was something forgotten, and it was important.
They had reached the TARDIS. The Doctor unlocked the door and ushered Sam inside.
“You do realize that if you change your own past, that you will change with it, right?”
“What of it?” The Doctor knelt under the console and started fiddling with some wires, “I honestly hope that happens. You have no idea what I’ve lived through.”
“Something‘s wrong. I can feel it.”
“We passed through a barrier that is supposed to be unbreachable.” The Doctor explained, “When the Time War ended, everyone lost… everywhen.”
“Every when?” Sam looked at him, “Do you mean that the war ended with both sides unmade?”
The Doctor looked up. His face had fallen again with a haunted look, “Yes.”
Sam sighed and looked away, “I’m just going to throw my doctorate out the window. There’s nothing that I’ve learned, either from college or my leaping, that has even begun to come close to what our being here means.”
“The fact that you were able to follow me at all is what bothers me.” There was a sparking fizzle from what he was working on, “Time and space is one thing, but you followed me to a place that technically doesn’t exist anymore.”
Sam looked at his hands and rubbed them together, “I can’t explain it. All I know is that I met myself on the way. He… or rather I, taught me how to follow you without killing myself.”
The Doctor stopped what he was doing and stuck his head up, over the console, to look at Sam, “You met yourself?”
“Yes. Why, is that a problem?”
“No, I just didn’t think that you were, oh never mind. It’s not important.” He ducked back under the console again.
“What are you doing?”
“I’m trying to reactivate the shields to the central column.”
“I thought I’d be nice and try to give you a lift back home.” He grinned, “No sense in you having to go through that again.”
“While I appreciate that, we still need to talk.”
“Well, we have all the time in the world now, so talk your heart out,” the Doctor said, without looking up.
Sam tried to think of something to say that would ease into the conversation. But, with everything that happened so far, the direct approach seemed best. “You need to forgive yourself.”
“What for? I’ve already seen to it that I wont have to do it.”
“Then why are we still here?”
“Because I can’t get this bloody thing to work.”
He sighed, “Doctor… If you were successful, then everything would have changed already. We wouldn’t even know each other.”
This made the Doctor pause. He just stared at the mess of wiring with a stunned look on his face. He stood up and was about to say something when the console bleeped. He flipped a switch and turned the screen so he could look into it.
The face of the President appeared, “Doctor, you will be happy to know that we have confirmed your theory and have already begun fixing the problem.”
The Doctor’s brow furrowed, “What are you going to do?”
“We’ve already done it. We have sent a Time Lord to Skaro just before the Dalek’s came to power, with orders to either prevent their coming into being, find some inherent weakness that can be used, or…”
The Doctor closed his eyes into a wince, “…or affect their development so that they evolve into a less aggressive species,” he finished for him.
The President looked confused, “Well, yes.”
“Thank you,” the Doctor said flatly, then switched the channel off.
Sam looked at him, “What is it?”
“Oh nothin. I just finished a predestination paradox is all. The Time Lord they sent was me.”
— Part Seven —
“They sent you?” Sam’s face was awash with confusion.
“Yeah. It was a long time ago. Back when my hair was curly and my favorite things were jelly babies.”
The Doctor’s face was almost permanently twisted into a frowning scowl. He stabbed at the keyboard rapidly. “Mind you, don’t touch anythin‘,” he said as he spun a dial and pulled a lever.
The central column began rising and falling. Sam took two steps back with his hands up. He turned them to look at his palms when they started to faintly glow blue. “Are you sure this is a good idea?”
The Doctor began wandering around the console, flipping this and that. “It’s the best I can do. Just don’t touch the controls and we should be fine.”
“Where are we going?”
“Earth. Don’t distract me. I’m trying to counter your being in the TARDIS.”
Things bleeped and warbled as they went through the time stream. Whenever something bleeped a warning, the Doctor would fiddle with a random control to counter whatever Sam’s presence was disrupting. The Cloister bell chimed warnings every now and then as well.
As for Sam, he did his best to become as unobtrusive as possible. To him, the Doctor was a blur of motion. Every once in a while, he literally blurred with after images. Those were the times that the Doctor would curse, adjust something else, then come back into focus. It was making him nauseous again.
Other things were blurring as well. Shadow images of other people working the TARDIS controls. It would get worse when the Doctor got out of focus, then subside as he came back. He caught himself counting the shadow shapes. He could make out at least thirteen distinctly different silhouettes in addition to the Doctor. Then all at once, everything went blue.
“Doctor, I can’t see!”
“We’re almos’ there, just hol’ on.”
‘Doctor, is that normal?’
‘Hey, I think I see someone.’
‘Master? Unauthorized person in the TARDIS.’
‘Is that a ghost?’ ‘Don’t be silly, Peri.’
‘Get away from it Jamie!’
‘What is tha’ thing?’
‘Oh how interesting, I wonder what you are.’
“Sam? Sam, wake up. We’ve arrived.”
The Doctor was kneeling over Sam’s prone form. He didn’t like what he saw. Sam was sweating profusely and trembling all over. He took his pulse and frowned deeper. Sam’s heart rate was through the roof.
Sam held on to his stomach. “I… I think I’m going to be sick.”
The Doctor held his hand in front of Sam’s face. “How many fingers you see?”
Blinking rapidly, Sam said, “Nine.”
The Doctor wasn’t prepared for this. He had been too busy with trying to make sure the TARDIS was all right, that he didn’t even think of what effect being in it was doing to Sam. “Ok, we need to get you into the infirmary.”
Sam groaned as the Doctor helped him sit up. His head was swimming, and he felt like he was going to throw up at any minute. He looked around and tried to focus on the Doctor. It was difficult, since his eyes were slightly crossed.
“Be one with yourself.”
“Tha’s very Zen.”
“I’m not kidding,” Sam closed his eyes again, “One of you is bad enough. Three of you is just too much.”
“Oh be quiet.”
The Doctor stood him up and half carried him into the corridor. Sam kept his eyes closed, trusting that the Doctor wouldn’t run him into anything. He began unconsciously rubbing his left eye when it started throbbing, and did his level best not to puke all over the Doctor, especially when he steered him around corners. A fleeting thought of the ‘Widowmaker’, the horse he rode to win the heart of one Texas ‘lady’, went through his mind. This was worse than the bucking.
Through the relentless pounding his head was being subjected to, he finally managed to squeak out, “When are we?”
“Back when I found you in 1941.”
“Great. I always wanted to be in a war. Hey, I thought I found you?”
“Isn’t someone going to -urp- notice this thing?”
“We’re not exactly where we’re supposed to be.”
Sam stopped, halting them both. He kept his eyes closed, though. “Where are we?”
The Doctor’s lips pursed, “Uhm… the Sea of Tranquility.”
“Don’t worry about it.” He nudged them forward again. They were just a few feet away from the infirmary. “Armstrong wont be here for another couple of decades, yet.”
“-urp- Well, that’s comforting.” It was then when he realized just how much the Doctor reminded him of Al… Minus all the womanizing talk of course. While he was feeling bad before, thinking of his old friend brought him down several more notches.
“Here, lie down.” The Doctor helped him onto the medi-table.
Sam’s stomach rolled again with the motion, and he wasn’t able to hold it back any longer. He felt the Doctor turn and aim his head right before he erupted. It wasn’t much. All the puking he did before had him pretty spent. However, his stomach tried to get rid of its’ contents anyway, even though it was more than empty.
The Doctor was almost frantic. Sam was turning several shades of blue, only it was his skin tone this time. Plus, he was almost to the point of convulsions. He found what he was looking for, and jerked Sam’s shirt tail out of his trousers. He pressed a device that resembled a sonic screwdriver against Sam’s stomach. The hiss of a drug entering him was brief, but it did what was needed. Sam’s retching ceased almost immediately.
“What was that?” Sam asked rather breathlessly.
The Doctor had the swing arm of the medi-table over Sam now. The readouts on it were scrolling rapidly. “A mild sedative. I don’t want you going into shock.” The Doctor didn’t like what he saw. The quantum resonance around and through Sam was disrupted badly. It was almost as if someone was playing two notes at the same time that were one half step apart from each other.
“I’m supposed to be helping you,” Sam muttered.
“Do me a favor, and save me later. Right now I want you to lie still and do what the doctor tells you to do.”
“Sure. No problem.”
“I’m going away for a minute, I need to get something.”
Sam heard the Doctor’s footsteps going away. He opened his eyes, in the hopes of being able to focus, and squinted them shut again. Everything was in triplicate still.
“Dammit, this sucks.”
The Doctor entered the room pushing a cart. It had a pyramid shaped device on it the size of a soccer ball. He pushed it right next to the medi-table and switched it on. It started to glow a faint blue, as did Sam.
“Never thought I’d ‘ave a use for this thing.”
Sam started to feel better rather quickly. He chanced opening his eyes again and was surprised that he only saw one Doctor.
“Whoa… What is that?“
The Doctor was monitoring the readings on the arm. “A quantum resonator. I confiscated it from someone on Cestus Three that was trying to do what you did a very long time ago.”
“That was before I fell out of favor with my people. I hadn’t even had my first regeneration yet.” He sighed inwardly in relief. The readouts were stabilizing.
“What’d you do?”
“To ‘fall out of favor’ I mean.”
“I got worried about you lot, and went against orders.” He grinned, “Haven’t looked back since.”
“So, Earth’s your pet project?”
“Sort of, yeah.” He still wasn’t looking at Sam. The telemetry readings had nearly his full attention. He was feeling more and more relieved by the second, as the readings became more normal. It wasn’t perfect yet, but it was a damn sight better than it was.
He looked down at him, “Because of people like you. Nowhere in the universe has more creative thought escaped.”
Sam half smiled, “Escaped?”
“What else would you call it, when utter brilliance comes from the most hideous of a warlike people?”
Sam thought about that for a minute. “OK, you’ve got a point.” He’d averted plenty of ‘warlike natures’ in his leaping and understood completely what the Doctor was talking about.
“So, what’s the verdict… am I going to live?”
The Doctor blew out a breath. “Yeah.” He looked down at him again, “Don’t do that again, would you please?”
“Hey now, this was your idea.”
“So, can I get up now?”
“Sure, go right ahead.”
Sam sat up and fell back on the bed again, wincing. He groaned his dissatisfaction. “You did that on purpose.”
The Doctor smirked, “Sort of, yeah. You’re going to be here a while. Might as well sleep it off. Don’t worry, I wont take us anywhere.”
“Oh, thank God.” Sam’s head fell back onto the cushion. “It feels like I haven’t had any sleep,” he yawned, “in days.”
The doctor grinned a bit, and threw a blanket over him. “That’s the sedative talking. G‘night Sam.”
Sam’s response was a slight snore.
— Part Eight —
The next morning, Sam was nursing a glass of soda water in the TARDIS galley with an ice pack on his head. The Doctor was busy cooking something that smelled both wonderful and appalling at the same time.
“You know,” the Doctor said as he was busy scrambling the eggs, “it makes sense now.”
“All those hiccups in the time stream that I pass through in the last half of the twentieth century,” The Doctor poured the mix into a frying pan, “All this time I thought I was running over myself, but the whole time it was you.”
Sam took the ice pack off his head and put it on the table, “I’m not sure I’m following you.”
“Well, this old bird of a ship is tetchy even in the best of circumstances,” he flipped two slices of ham in another skillet, “I had thought I was just dodging myself going back and forth so many times in the same era, but,” he paused as he slipped the ham and eggs onto two plates, “But, what I never figured out was why I’d get thrown off course so many times, no matter how careful I was. What was happening, here you go,” he set Sam’s plate in front of him, “The TARDIS was ricocheting off of your quantum wake. I figured it out while you were asleep.”
Sam was staring at his plate and didn’t say anything.
“What’s the matter? I thought Americans liked ham and eggs for breakfast?”
Sam looked up at him from under his brow, “These ‘eggs‘… are blue.”
The Doctor frowned and looked at his own plate, “Ketterig eggs are supposed to be blue.”
“Oh stop fussin‘ and eat. They’re not gonna kill you.”
Sam poked at them with his fork. He sniffed at the bite before putting it in his mouth. The taste was a little off, but it wasn’t unpleasant.
“See, it didn’t kill you,” the Doctor mused through a grin.
Sam rolled his eyes a bit, “Well, I wasn’t expecting blue.”
“Tha’s surprisin, ‘specially with your bluish way of gettin‘ about,” the Doctor was still grinning.
Finally looking up at him, Sam said, “Funny.”
Breakfast over and done with, they were back in the control room. Sam was standing back and away from the console, while the Doctor was fiddling with something at the view screen.
“Right. Now let’s see if that resonator does it’s job,” the Doctor said just before flipping a switch.
The central column started moving, and the grinding filled the room. Sam flinched and looked at his hands. When they didn’t change color, he blew out a relieved breath.
Grinning triumphantly, the Doctor looked over at Sam, “See? Trust me.”
Even with the modifications, a small bleeping started up. The Doctor frowned and looked at the view screen.
Sam walked tentatively over to the console to see what the Doctor was looking at, “What is it?”
The Doctor’s hands went over the controls, and he started walking around the console making adjustments, “Sorry, we ‘ave ta make a bit of a side trip. Just picked up someone coming into the system.”
“What, another time traveler?”
“Not exactly. While alien to this system, they’re not necessarily evil. But If it’s who I think it is, he’s not going to be ‘appy.”
Sam actually leaned on the console, “And that is?”
The Doctor glanced at Sam’s hands on the console, and grinned that it wasn’t affecting either of them, “The Nestene Consciousness.”
“And who are the Nestene?”
He frowned, “Their system was one of the one’s that was destroyed in the Time War. Beings made of plastic.”
“Yeah, I know. More to fubble about with your degrees, innit?”
“Their whole society can manipulate plastic in any way they see fit. Lovely planet, not that you could breathe with the atmosphere being nearly one hundred percent argon, and all.”
“Riiight. So, other than their planet being blown up, what makes you think he’ll be pissed off?”
The Doctor gave Sam a sidelong, incredulous look, “I think that would be enough, don’t you think?”
“Would be for me, but why come to Earth? It’s not like there’s anything special here. We have to manufacture polymers. They don’t grow naturally.”
“Food most likely. Their system was a good source of carbon, petrol, and a slew of other things that you lot use as fuel, not to mention the byproducts.”
Sam frowned now, “I didn’t run back and forth fixing time just so that some alien thing could eat it.”
The Doctor smiled and was amazed at how much alike they were, “That’s my job. Want to get your feet wet fightin‘ off aliens?”
“I have an idea. You have a chem lab in this thing?”
“Yeah, but we need to land and get after him.”
“Hold off on landing. This is a time ship, so we can enter the time frame at the point he lands right?”
The Doctor nodded, “Tha’s true, we ‘aven’t entered the period yet, so tha’s all right. What’d you ‘ave in mind?”
“Put us in some sort of parking orbit. This is going to take about an hour. Where’s your lab?”
Sam had the Doctor running around the lab, spouting off names of different chemicals. A blue mixture was bubbling in a beaker over a high tech version of a Bunsen burner. Only after he started to smell the concoction did the Doctor catch on to what Sam was doing.
He shook his head, “I cannae use that. Tha’s murder.”
Sam looked over the beaker to the Doctor, “Look, you said it was here to eat the planet more or less, right? I’m sorry, but you don’t go around eating places that have people on it. It’s rude, and I wont stand for it.”
Sam picked up a glass tube and gingerly poured the liquid into it, “If you use it as blackmail, then you have a strong position. If you don’t use it, it could turn your buttons against you and stab your hearts before you had a chance to talk about it.”
The Doctor watched Sam stopper the tube, “You do ‘ave a point.”
Sam held out the vial for the Doctor to take, “Just keep it as a fall back position if anything.”
The Doctor slowly reached over and took it. When he did, Sam’s eyes bulged a little as a faint blue glow washed over him briefly.
Alarmed, the Doctor grabbed his arm, “Hey now, none o’ that.”
Sam took a few breaths, “It’s OK, I know what this is,” he smiled, “You’re going to be fine, Doctor.”
The Doctor’s face fell, “You’re leavin’? Now?”
“I don’t really control this, but you don’t need me anymore Doctor,” he twisted his arm in the Doctor’s grip, turning it into a handshake, “I know you’re still in mourning, but you’re going to be fine. Just take care of the big problems. I’ll handle the little ones.”
“You be careful, Sam. You’ve got a lot ahead of you.”
Sam was blue again, and it looked to be the last time, “You too Doctor. I hope we run across each other again.”
Sam’s voice faded as he disappeared, “Don’t lose that vial!”
Crestfallen, the Doctor pocketed the vial and made his way to the control room. He had hoped that Sam would travel with him for a bit longer. It wasn’t every day that you met someone who traveled as much as he did. Still, he had things to do.
He fiddled with the controls and tried to zero in on where the Nestene Consciousness landed. He saw the location and almost laughed.