A Time Lord Even More So

'A man is the sum of his memories you know... a time lord even more so.'

This story is pure unadulterated self indulgent fan wank chocka block full of Doctors, nasty Time Lords, sort of alternate universes, an inordinate number of rocks and an unusual pairing that surprised and disturbed even me - and it is quite sappy.

It may take a while to come together as basically I said to myself 'Canon; who needs it? A sequential plot; who needs it? Punctuation; who needs it? – and those verbie things are overrated anyway' So basically if you can make any sense of it by the end could you fill me in. Just send me a message at and I will send you half a blueberry muffin. And if there are any prbleems withe tpyos I do apologise. Recently I spilt a large amount of Drambuie into my laptop and it has taken on very TARDIS like attributes.

But anyway – that's enough buggering around with authors notes: let's get on to the exciting bits about rocks.

So,

Let me tell you a fairy tale...

Once upon a time there was a rock. A small, not very impressive rock. In fact his rock probably looked like any old rock. It was rock like and er... well that is about the extent to which one can describe a rock.

But... and you knew this was going to happen didn't you other wise this would be a pretty naff story... this rock was special. For some weird and magical reason that I am not going to explain this rock continued being rock like and dull and rockish long after its little rock buddies had been eroded away by the wind and the rain or turned into pet rocks and painted purple.

So the little rock (for it was quite a small rock) continued.

And continued.

And continued.

And after a while it began to get a bit bored.

As you do...

So, one particularly dull day the rock thought to itself 'OK – this whole rock thing is just not popping my clogs. I think I will stop sitting around being rockesque and evolve into a being of unimaginable power.'

And it did.

And the rock was now not dull, not boring, not 'oh I'll think I just sit here for ten thousand years until I erode into a small pebble and end up in the bottom of someone's fish tank' in any way. And the rock named itself...

HAROLD

Yes I know. But even super evolved rocks of unimaginable power can sometimes be a bit nerdy.

However... and you knew this was coming didn't you... there was a problem. Harold was now a rock of unimaginable power. But that was exactly the problem. Because his power was unimaginable he couldn't imagine it and so he was sort of stuck in a bit of a quandary as to what he should actually do.

But then he had a really really clever idea. The idea behind this good idea was that if Harold had the four most extreme things in all creation surely this would jog his imagination and then he could really start getting into this whole being a being of unimaginable power thing.

So he summoned his pebble army. I did mention them before didn't I? Well anyway...

And he said to his army. 'Bring me the most beautiful thing in all creation, bring me the worst and most terrible thing in all creation, bring me the ugliest thing in all creation and bring me the goodest thing in all creation.'

Harold wasn't too sure about 'goodest' actually being a word, but as there was no one handy with a dictionary around he let it pass.

So...

Harold's mighty army went out to fulfill their quest. They traveled the galaxies, they squirmed through black holes, they read books at the local library and attended a rather dull lecture series about 13th century vases. When they had explored every part of every bit of every galaxy they could lay their pebble-esque hands on they built time machines and traveled backwards and forwards through time scattering pebbles throughout history in pursuit of their quest.

And finally, they returned to Harold, interrupted his afternoon nap and showed him what they had brought ...

It was a bloke.

A somewhat short skinny scruffy looking chap with curly hair, crooked fingers and pale blue eyes.

Harold, as you can imagine, was right pissed...

Under the Vortex

Ace found him in the viewing room, under the swirling vortex. As usual he was not sitting on one of the old battered comfy armchairs that dotted the room, but curled up on the floor in a corner of the room.

She went and sat on the floor beside him. He said nothing. He merely continued to stare at his hands. They were beautiful hands: Thin with slim graceful fingers – each one slightly crooked where it had been broken. She had asked him about them once and he had merely shook his head and made a cryptic comment about 'one for each regeneration'.

'I want to be brave, like he would be, like him,' he said at last. 'But I am afraid.'

She tentatively touched his shoulder. 'Don't worry. The Doctor will get us away.'

'No he won't. You don't know them.' His voice was dull and lifeless. 'They will stop at nothing to get me back.' He sighed and leaned back to look at the stars again.

And going right back to the beginning: Napkins, napkins and more napkins

It had started a few days ago with a nagging feeling like he had left the gas on. At first he hadn't paid it any heed. He had always been a bit grumpy in this incarnation. It came with the Scots accent. He had wandered the TARDIS corridors, growling, checking instruments and circuits with such vehemence until the TARDIS had got shirty and had trapped him and locked him in a cupboard for two hours.

After he had been let out he had kicked a roundel, bruised his toe and stomped around moodily for a while.

Ace eventually found him ironing napkins. She had asked him why he was ironing napkins and he had told her that he was thinking of holding a dinner party in the near future.

When she had looked at the piles and piles of beautifully ironed napkins surrounding him and asked just for how many people he was planning to invite to this dinner party he had thrown the iron at her.

Fortunately Ace had excellent reflexes and had ducked. She left in a hail of well ironed napkins muttering something about loopy old Time Lords and 'totally losing it'.

After she had gone he had realized that the nagging feeling had now changed in pitch and had begun to make his head hurt. He looked around and wondering what he was doing surrounded by so many napkins decided to have a small snooze. Perhaps then his head would feel better. He lay down on a pile of napkins and went to sleep.

Seeing is believing

He peered cross eyed at the brightly coloured object perched on the end of his nose. They were so beautiful. He had never known anything so beautiful. But for some reason he had the strangest feeling he had done this before. He even knew the name of this funny little spec of colour: it was an Adonis Blue.

'What are they?'

Ace laughed at him as she began to unbutton his shirt. 'Butterflies stupid.'

'What do they do?'

'Nothing. They simply are. You look at them and they make you happy. Or at least – that's what the Doctor says.'

He looked quizzically at the butterfly again. 'He sounds like a clever chap, this Doctor of yours.'

Once again upon a time

And continuing on with the fairytale... (Yes bear with me on this one – this is going somewhere... come on – think funky existentialist allegory that underlines the themes of the story in a clever literary manner thereby avoiding the need for stating the bleedin obvious – or something like that).

Where were we? Ah yes... Anyway the pebble army had spent a really long time fulfilling their master's quest and after spending just eons and eons questing and such like they felt that they had done a really good job and deserved a few weeks off, preferably on full pay, and they had dragged their prize in chains – did I mention the chains... Oh well it is traditional in this sort of story isn't it - before their beloved master.

And that is where the story picks up: with the bloke...

Harold the rock of not quite imaginable power was right shirty, not only because he had been woken from his afternoon nap, but at life in general because, as he looked down at the bloke on the floor he mused that when he had sent his army off on their quest this was definitely not what he had been expecting.

The bloke on the floor looked up at him with his big gooey blue eyes and smiled.

Harold turned to the head of the pebble army, a rather jagged looking medium size rock who had always liked to think of himself as a bit of a rolling stone, and Harold very quietly and very dangerously asked what exactly they meant by coming back with 'some bloke'. He also said a lot of other things too, but we can't print them.

After Harold had finished his, er, speech, the head of the pebble army cleared his throat nervously.

'Ahh, oh lord Harold. You told us to find the goodest thing in all creation, the worst thing in all creation, the most beautiful thing in all creation and the ugliest thing in all creation... So we... um... sort of... did. And let me tell you we had a bit of trouble with the whole 'goodest' thing – do you know that isn't actually a word?'

Harold, who was by this time totally fuming, merely looked again at the bloke.

The bloke on the floor smiled at him again and tried to wave, but this didn't really work very well because his hands were chained behind his back so he just looked like he was imitating a performing seal.

'And who exactly,' he asked the bloke. 'Are you?'

This time the bloke didn't smile. 'Well now... you are not exactly going to like this very much, but... I don't know.'

At this, Harold, as you can imagine, was even more right pissed. But we aren't concerned with him anymore.

And continuing on with the napkins

'Napkins... napkins? Napkins!' he said as he sat up. But then the pain in his head hit him again and he fell back onto a pile of beautifully well ironed napkins. 'Oh... napkins,' he said dully as realization dawned

'Well I suppose I better answer the phone,' he announced cryptically to the ceiling. And he trudged off to the console room...

It looked like a First World War battlefield: Mud, mud and more mud. To add to the misery thick drops of heavy rain were pelting down, churning the soil and making the mud even muddier.

The Doctor thought very dirty thoughts. For goodness knows how many years he had carried that umbrella, but now of all times he had decided to leave it in the TARDIS. And he was wet, very wet, and starting to get muddy. But that was really to be expected given the surroundings. It really was a miserable sort of place. Through the pelting rain he could just see the outline of some barbed wire and a watch tower. With any luck they won't be doing much watching in this weather he thought.

He spotted his quarry. The source of the distress call and his nasty headache. At first it looked like a mound of mud. But then he realized that the mound was man shaped.

Was he dead? He couldn't be. If he was dead then the call would have stopped and his head would not be hurting. So then – working on simple logic the man must be alive. He rolled the man over onto his back. He looked, well he looked muddy. Definitely a prisoner of some sort. Underneath the mud he was wearing some sort of ragged uniform. His hands and feet were chained with the sort of primitive restraints they used to use on old Earth prison colonies like Australia. But what disturbed the Doctor the most was the collar: a nasty looking iron thing that was obviously designed to humiliate and hurt, judging by the dog tag and marks around the man's neck.

Whoever he was, distress call or not, he definitely needed rescuing. Had they just left him out here to freeze to death or were they going to come back for him? Either way he had to move fast. He grabbed the man's manacles and began to drag him back to the TARDIS.

He could have used Ace right about now as he struggled to drag the unconscious man through the mud. But he hadn't known exactly who the distress call had been from. It could have been some old Time Lord acquaintance full of anecdotes from 'the old days' or even worse – Iris - and that would have been too embarrassing for words - and the last thing he wanted was Iris getting her sticky gin soaked paddy paws on Ace and teaching her bad habits. So he had waited until Ace was asleep before embarking on this rather wet rescue mission.

He lugged the man into the console room, set the coordinates for the vortex and turned to regard the muddy stranger on his nice clean floor.

A nightmare

He opened his eyes and saw a little man smiling at him. This is a nice sort of dream he thought to himself, but where had he conjured the little man from. Unlike the hard men he was used to the little man had kind twinkly eyes with laugh lines around them. He was sure he would have taken very special care to remember someone like him. Memories were precious if you didn't have any. Good memories were even more precious. He had so few, tucked away waiting those quiet moments when he could take them out, look at them and savor them without fear.

So where did this little man come from? As this is a dream he thought I should be able to have a look... he turned his head, saw the roundels and realized this was not a good dream – this was a nightmare.

The man appeared to be terrified. He had taken one look around and froze. The Doctor smiled again, but this seemed to have no effect. The stranger just stared up at him with big sad wide eyes.

'Hello,' he said. 'Did you send me the message? Are you a Time Lord.'

The mention of the word Time Lord provoked a small whimper from the man. Then, as if ashamed of this outburst the man stuck a muddy hand into his mouth.

It was then the Doctor saw it and his smile turned into a frown. A small infinity sign was burned into the man's palm.

The Doctor's eyes hardened. 'What had he done,' he asked himself. What had he done?'

He said I look for butterflies that sleep among the wheat: I make then into mutton-pies and sell them in the street

Ace idly twirled his soft brown hair through her fingers and watched him while he slept among the butterflies. He looked dead peaceful. Normally he looked half scared to death, always watching her, checking as if he was afraid of doing something to displease her, like he was afraid that she would turn around and belt him one.

She wondered what they had done to him to make him that way. She looked at the brand on his arm. It looked like an arm band – three dark brown stripes with a funny little figure eight underneath them that matched the little one on his palm. Funny sort of decoration she thought, but everyone had their own ideas about fashion. She would like to get a tattoo – a small one, maybe a butterfly she mused lazily. She hadn't been old enough back on Earth and the one time she had mentioned it to the Doctor he had gone all parental on her and turned an alarming shade of puce.

He had a tattoo, just below the brand. A small collection of exotic alien figures. She thought it looked pretty, but she had felt sick when he had told her it was his prison identification number.

Better a fool than a drowned rat

The man cowed back at the Doctor's frown. The man knew that look. It wasn't the same look the hard men in the camp gave before they kicked you and cursed you and beat you for being too fast or too slow or for sport because they were bored. This was the look from before the camp. He remembered a place like this, with the roundels. Where the hard men had offered no explanation as they had hurt him except for the revulsion in their eyes.

But the little man did not hit him. He merely stared thoughtfully at him for a minute then crossed to the inner door.

'Ace,' yelled the Doctor sharply. 'Get in here - now.'

A few moments later a sleepy looking Ace appeared. 'Oi, what's going on Professor,' she asked. Then spotting the muddy man on the floor. 'Oh do we have a visitor?'

Doing an unconscious Vivian from the Young Ones impersonation the Doctor parroted: 'Yes, we have a visitor' as he used the sonic screwdriver to undo the man's shackles. 'Take him and get him cleaned up... And don't ask any questions – not now.'

'All right Doctor,' she said tartly, angered by the Doctor's tone. She went over to the stranger. 'Hello, my name's Ace. What's yours?'

'I told you not to ask any questions,' interrupted the doctor as he hoisted the man up by his collar. 'Just take him and clean him up.'

'Okay, okay – no need to get your knickers in knot.' She took the man by the arm. 'Come on mate. Let's go have a shower.'

Ace took the stranger to one of the TARDIS bathrooms. He followed her obediently. As they walked she cast him the odd look. The Doctor picked up some strange ones now and then, but this one was a doozy.

'In there,' she said as she pointed to the shower. He looked at her hesitantly. 'Wash,' she supplied. 'I'll go get you some of the Doctor's clothes to wear. You look about the same height,' she said as she threw a robe at him.

With a bemused grin she left the stranger to his own devices.

When she came back she found him still standing in the middle of the bathroom holding the robe.

'Oh for Pete's sake,' she exclaimed. 'Haven't you ever seen a shower before?' She pushed him in fully clothed and turned on the taps and went to wait in the corridor.

Eventually he emerged dressed in some of the Doctor's old clothes. The trousers were a bit short and a little big around the waist, but that was fixed with her dressing gown cord. And she had to admit: she didn't think it was possible, but he made that question mark jumper look good. In fact he scrubbed up quite well. He was short, very skinny and his haircut looked like it had been done with a hedge trimmer, but judging by the state he was in when he arrived wherever the Doctor had rescued him from probably wasn't a very healthy place.

Hammer into anvil or should that be hammer into butter?

'You are so...'

'So what?' she asked.

He struggled to find the words. 'So soft,' he said eventually.

She sat up, scattering butterflies hither and nither, laughing. 'Soft? You wouldn't say that if you knew... you don't know the half of it.'

He rolled over and she absently traced one of the scars that criss-crossed his back. 'And you are hard, I suppose.'

'I don't know what I am,' he answered truthfully.

Questions are a burden to others, answers a prison for oneself

When they emerged into the console room they found the Doctor had cleaned up the mud off the floor and was looking round for somewhere to dump the stranger's shackles.

'Come here,' ordered the Doctor.

The stranger obediently held out his wrists.

'No,' he snapped the little man angrily. 'No more chains. You are safe.'

At the stranger's bewildered look he continued. 'Yes I am a Time Lord, but I am not like them.'

'Sit down.'

The man immediately sat where he was on the floor. The Doctor sighed, but didn't comment.

Ace sidled up to him. 'Doctor, who is this guy?' she asked, but the Doctor waved her away and addressed the man.

'We will drop you off at the nearest habitable planet. Until then stay out of my sight, understand.'

Ace was gobsmacked by the Doctor's behaviour, but the stranger only nodded.

'Professor, he's hurt. He needs medical attention and rest,' she protested.

For a moment he said nothing, but then the Doctor growled softly, extenuating every r roll. 'All right. Take him to the medical bay. I'll join you there.'

Everyday cruelty

She noticed he was limping.

'Have you sprained your ankle or something?' she asked.

'No they cut my hamstring.'

Ace stopped and rounded on him. 'They what?'

He flinched back, pressing himself against the wall. Ace forced herself to take a deep breath.

Peter, Paul and Percy

'Well I'm not calling him number 16425. So I suppose we will just have to find him a name,' said Ace.

'But what?'

'I know,' said the Doctor as he disappeared into the library, returning a moment later carrying a bible. 'We'll do what the missionaries did.'

He handed her the bible. 'Pick one.'

Ace began to thumb through the book. 'Amminadab, Ishmael, Zerubbabel, Elmadum? No way Professor. These names are totally naff.'

The Doctor sighed. 'There are some normal names in there too you know... Mathew, Mark, Luke and John – remember them.'

'Yeah - and Peter, Paul and Mary,' she countered.

The Doctor scowled at her. 'Talented singers and all good Christian names.'

Ace turned to the man sitting uncomfortably on the sofa. 'So Peter, Paul or Mary?'

'Actually I quite like John,' he said timidly. 'If that's all right?'

'Then John it is. A good simple name, but a name of distinction,' said the Doctor. He dipped his fingers into his now cooling tea and sprinkled some over the stranger. 'I now christen thee John,' he said solemnly.

And for the first time the man smiled.

I make them into mutton pies and sell them in the street

'What's he like. This Doctor of yours?'

'The Professor? He is a good bloke. He rescued me from a life as a waitress and for that I'll always be grateful.' She thought back over their adventures. 'Sometimes he can be a right git though - don't get me wrong. But he has taught me so much stuff. Sometimes I wonder what he sees in a right twonker like me. But that is just him. He likes to see the good in everyone.'

'The Doctor doesn't like me very much.'

'Nah - he's just a right cranky old geezer.'

'Maybe,' agreed the man, but he was staring thoughtfully at the brand on is palm.

The Doctor pulled Ace to one side.

'Look after him will you. He... I think he has been hurt very badly.'

She smiled. 'Sure, no worries Professor, wounded birds are my specialty' she said. She went to move off, but he held her arm.

'And Ace... be careful.'

She rolled her eyes at him. 'I told you, no worries Professor.' She nodded her head towards the man. 'Besides, look at him – how dangerous can he be?'

Nuffink like a good shag

Anger flooded through him as he took in the sight before him. 'No,' he cried. 'No!'

The Doctor grabbed the man by his shirt collar and dragged him off the bed. 'Right, if you are a criminal you should be treated like a criminal,' he said through gritted teeth as he pulled the younger man into the corridor behind him.

'TARDIS,' he snarled to the ceiling.

As if sensing that the Doctor was in no mood to be trifled with the TARDIS quickly produced a door.

They entered a little used area of the TARDIS, the holding cells. The last time the Doctor had been in here was when a Vrarg had accidentally got into the TARDIS and he had needed to take it back home without it eating one of his companions in the meantime.

He strode up to the nearest holding cage, threw the man inside and slammed the door to the cell. The man in the cell looked fearfully back at him. 'I...' he began, but the Doctor coldly cut him off. 'Don't say a word. Not a word.' Then he turned on his heel and left.

After he had gone the man slowly got up and looked around him. Another cell. Another cage. He felt tears in his eyes and wondered why. In all the times he had been locked away before he had never cried. But that was then. When shivering in a dark little cell was all there was. Here, beyond the bars, there were butterflies. And already he missed them... her. What had he done? Was that what he had done before, to make the hard men so angry with him? Had he done it again? Was the Doctor right now calling for them? He shivered and and sunk down against the bars in despair. Accept it, he thought. There is nothing for you. This is who you are and this is your life. But he knew that a small part of him had begun to hope. Then he remembered the ice in the Doctor's eyes. Even the Doctor thought he deserved to be locked up. There was no escape. He curled himself up into a ball and waited for the hard men to come.

Romana watched.

She made herself. Because he had been her friend and because she hated him. It had taken a long time. There were a lot of memories in there. He never stopped screaming. Even though he was gagged you could still hear the screaming as everyone he had ever loved and had ever known was ripped from him. All of his memories were methodically, slowly and tortuously burned out of his brain and then crumbled into non existence. And all the while through the screaming he had looked at her. Begging her not to do it. Pleading for a mercy that would not come. Anything but this.

Somewhere, locked in his brain was the information that would destroy her world... almost had destroyed her world... could not be allowed to destroy her world.

Afterwards Captain Mendon watched amazed as his mistress slowly approached the twisted broken figure and gently brushed his curly brown hair off his sweat soaked forehead and gently kissed it.

At this, the man's eyes suddenly snapped open and he stared back at her. His mouth opened but nothing more than a pitiful questioning shudder came out.

But Romana just smiled as if she had understood. 'For the greater good my friend,' she whispered in his ear. 'For the greater good.'

Then she stepped back and the hard men moved in.

Ace is right pissed

Ace came striding into the console room.

'You bastard. You utter pratt bastard. You had no right. No right at all. What the hell do you think you were playing at?'

The Doctor, who was sitting in one of the armchairs by the library, did not move. He just continued to stare straight ahead.

'I'm sorry Ace,' he said at last. 'Perhaps I was just feeling a bit paternal.'

Ace began to pace up in down in front of him. 'No way Professor. There is something going on here, I can feel it. You rescue this guy half dead from some gulag prison planet, but then you won't even talk to him, you won't even look at him. That is not like you Doctor.'

She suddenly realized. 'You know who he is don't you? But you won't tell me or him. Doesn't he deserve to know who he is or are you in one of your cod almighty 'mysterious and manipulative' moods?'

She stopped in front of him. 'Because if you are I will be really put out.' She paused and he could see the tears in her eyes. 'I like him you know. I really like him. He's sweet... and sexy... and...' she trailed off blindly.

The Doctor looked softly off into the distance.

'And he's me.'

The Doctor reflects

The Doctor rubbed his temples with his hands. It hurt. He sat alone in the console room deep in thought, sunk in his own misery. But he was also down in the holding cells, tears leaking down his face, head pressed against the cool TARDIS floor, seeking redemption, not understanding but oddly comforted by the humming that was washing over him.

He had been furious, but now, later, here, he was glad that she was looking after the boy. The boy? He snorted. The 'boy' was older than he was, but in a horrible twist of fate as innocent as a new born babe.

He berated himself. He – the great manipulator. He should have known it would happen. He had let Ace look after him because he shouldn't/couldn't bear to see him, to even think what he had become.

To look at him. All the time wondering what act, what decision was going to be the one... the one.

Who would he kill? What would he destroy?

How do you hate yourself he asked himself? And what made it worse was that when he looked into the young man's eyes –his eyes – all he saw was confusion, fear and pain.

He should have seen it coming...

Of course he had turned to her. She was the only good thing he had ever known.

'You have to apologise.'

'I know.'

'He doesn't know who he is. He doesn't understand.'

'I know.'

'He doesn't deserve to be punished. Not for that. Not for...' she trailed off.

'I know.'

A TARDIS knows

She indeed, thought the TARDIS. Gender was irrelevant. To the TARDIS there were only two types of beings. Those who spent far too long in the bathroom and those who should spend a little more time in the bathroom (and improve their aim). Both sorts were irritating, but she (well when in Rome) couldn't help missing them when they disappeared off gallivanting. Oh they liked their gallivanting all right, but they always came home. They always returned so she could look after them... look after him.

She knew he was a he – simply by the amount of towels he left around the bathroom and the train set - that was a dead give a way. Yes sometimes he was grumpy, stupid and then just plain dumb – especially when he tried to make her do stupid and dangerous things, but she loved him and hated him as you do.

Which was why she was watching over him. Both of him. One tormenting himself – trying to pretend he knew it all... and the other one – the one who knew nothing - lying on the floor of the little cage, curled up, tears drying on his face.

She sighed: It had taken a long time to get him to sleep.

She liked this one. Yes she hadn't met him yet, but she knew. She knew everything. A TARDIS just does. TARDISes just do. But they don't tell their masters that because that would ruin the fun and quite frankly the Time Lords were considered to be a bunch of smug know it all gits by the TARDISes so it was nice to have something over them.

So she knew and unlike him, unlike his other self, she understood and could forgive. Not that he was ever going to forgive himself mind. But perhaps, just for a while, while he slept, she could watch over him and pretend it was all like it had been in the old days – when he had been a little boy.

Why?

I had my suspicions, but the medical test confirmed it. He is me, or rather he will be me. He is a future regeneration. Probably a quite recent one judging by the strength of the distress call.'

Ace was slumped against the console in shock. 'But why doesn't he know who he is?'

'They have taken his memories,' sighed the Doctor. 'Burned them out of him.'

'But why?'

The Panoptican was silent. One hundred thousand people stood in it, yet the silence was oppressive. This was a sight that had not been seen for a thousand years. A Time Lord had been condemned to the ultimate punishment dictated by Gallifreyan society. To be shamed. To be branded. To be executed.

And how did that feel? Well, not all that wonderful to be honest he thought as he stood blinking in the harsh sunlight, once again – as he had been so many times before – the centre of attention... what had Dr Akalu said about that?

In fact he didn't feel all that great at all. This might have something to do with the fact that he had been strung up and tortured. Strung up between the posts and tortured until he had screamed until he was hoarse, until he choked, until he retched, until they came again and did it all over again.

Eventually he decided they just did it for the heck of it. Because they could. Because they had nothing better to do and he was an annoying git who had it coming anyway and they had never liked him – not ever. Because he had always been a trouble maker. Because they could.

He could see Fitz and the look on Fitz's face scared him. Did he really look that bad? So bad that not even the rumpled and bumpled Fitz could raise a smile for him. One smile would have been nice, one single solitary iota of comfort. Oh well, he thought. He had always known it was going to have to end.

He felt a shove on his back and he set off through the silent crowd.

He had just never expected it to end like this.

She found him underneath the vortex in the viewing room

She watched him for minute.

'So you know,' she stated.

'Yes, he told me.'

'Everything?'

'Everything... except the one crucial detail.'

The Lady Romana: most High President of Gallifrey

She had never wanted the job, but she knew she was the obvious choice: Flavia was a powder puff liberal, Kamia was too old, Tragon spouted pretty words, but he would fold at the first sign of battle and the rest of the spineless cretins on the High Council could never have lead Gallifrey as she had.

And now she cursed her sentimentality. She knew that sentimentality had no place for a leader, but she had allowed her feelings for the Doctor to lead her into making a bad judgment. The odds were astronomical, but then again the Doctor had always had a knock for beating astronomical odds. Two Doctors only increased those odds. Even the remotest chance that the Doctor could get his memories back was too dangerous.

Captain Mendon waited and watched the Lady Romana's face curl up into a sneer and wondered what she was thinking of. Even though she was a tiny innocent looking woman she terrified him. When called upon she acted with a savagery that chilled him. Her hands were steeped in blood, but it was her ruthlessness that had kept Gallifrey alive.

'Well My Lady?'

She turned to him and he felt a little jolt of fear run up his spine at her expression. 'We will just have to get him back.'

Forgiveness

'I'm sorry.'

The man only gaped at him in disbelief.

The Doctor held out his hand and smiled. 'Let me tell you who you are.'

Never, ever give up

The Doctor slapped the console and the view screen faded to black.

'But he is innocent. He has no memory.' It was a question, not a statement.

'I can't interfere with the future Ace. What ever I will do I must do - and face the consequences.'

'This isn't you Professor. I can't believe you would just give in to that stuck up cow.'

The Doctor said nothing and Ace drove the knife in further. 'I thought you said that the Doctor never, ever gives up.'

He shot her a filthy look. 'That was a low blow,' he snapped, but then he remembered his future self and how he had smiled at the butterflies.

He sighed. 'All right then. Let's see what we can do.' And he turned to the console, flipped open a small panel and pushed a big red button. 'Hang on. This could get a little bumpy.'

Mendon looked up from the console in alarm. 'My Lady, the Doctor's TARDIS is escaping.'

Romana uttered a very crude Old High Gallifreyan curse. 'I should have known,' she muttered. 'Get after him.'

A butterfly by any other name

He stood on the top of the hill watching the butterflies. The Doctor came up and stood silently behind him.

After a while the younger man turned and offered the Doctor the butterfly that was perched on the tip of his finger. 'I have never known such beauty.'

The Doctor held out his hand and let the insect hop to his outstretched hand. 'Yes, she is beautiful.'

'They are coming aren't they?'

'I'm sorry. They are beginning to break through,' he said softly looking at his future self.

'It's all right,' replied the younger man. 'Thank you for trying.'

The Doctor smiled sadly.

'Just remember. You are the Doctor, and the Doctor never ever gives up.'

The other man nodded and set off down the hill, but then he stopped and turned, fixing the Doctor with a stare. 'Take care of her for me.' And he walked away.

The Doctor looked at the Adonis Blue on his hand. 'Always,' he whispered. 'Always.'

Romana and the Doctor glared at each other...

From across the console room.

'Where is he?'

'Don't worry Madame President, he is coming. I always will be a man of my word.'

'You don't understand.'

'No,' he said softly. 'I don't.'

She eyed him. 'I should just kill you now and be done with it all.'

'What, and create a paradox?' he sneered.

He saw the fear in her eyes.

'No,' he said cruelly. 'I didn't think so.'

For the greater good

He had tried to be brave, but now here, in the place with the roundels, fear overtook him and he begged. 'Please, don't take me back there,' he whimpered, as the hard men closed in on him with their chains and the hatred in their faces.

'You're not going back,' she told him coldly.

'What are you going to do?'

'What I should have done in the first place,' replied Romana.

Peace perhaps?

The desert stretched a thousand miles in all direction. A planet of nothing.

The two of them walked a little way, then they stopped.

Mendon undid his restraints and handed him a shovel.

'Dig,' he ordered.

'Dig what?' he asked.

'A grave.'

'Oh,' he replied. And began to dig.

But remember: with time travel, nothing is set in stone...

Back under the vortex

'He doesn't deserve to die. You just can't let yourself die...'

'Whatever will be will be, the future's not ours to see, ke sera, ke sera. Still it is a lovely planet... a good place to rest...' he mused thoughtfully as he looked up at the swirling vortex.

But then the Doctor smiled. 'Do you believe in Karma Ace?'

'What like that stuff that 'what comes around goes around'? Nah – hippie bollocks innit?'

He looked at her sharply. 'And didn't you once say that I was a hippy? But think of it. He needed you. He needed someone to look at him without hate, without judging him by a past that he had no access to... and didn't he help you? Didn't helping him and his love for you give you something in return?'

Ace scowled. 'Don't remind me Professor. Bloody kinky if you ask me.'

'Well at least you now know that there is someone who will always love you.'

He ignored the look he knew she was giving him and continued to stare into the vortex. 'But I think,' he said at last. 'In the general cosmic karmic scheme of things, that these things have a way of sorting themselves out.'

And he sighed in that incredibly smug manner of his and stared up into the future, the past and the in between.

Epilogue

The pebble general watched the haughty looking woman walk away. 'Right, the coast is clear. Come on boys,' he whispered and his little round army rolled up the corridor.

'Are you sure this is it?' he asked his scientific advisor.

His scientific advisor consulted his pad. 'Look: According to the readings this thing covers all our bases – all in one.'

'Even the 'goodest' bit?'

'I'm improvising OK. If we grab this, then we can all go home.'

The general was swayed. Truth to be told he really wasn't a rolling stone at heart. He surveyed the object of their discussion. 'Okay – come on boys let's grab it and we can all be home for Christmas'.

A ragged cheer went up amongst the men as they surged forward and nabbed their prize.

Once the prize had been secured, they shimmied through the interdimensional time travel portal and arrived triumphantly back at Harold's palace only to be told that he was having a nap.

'Bugger that,' said the general. 'Wake him up – we have fulfilled his quest.'

They surged (or should that be rolled?) into Harold's throne room and deposited their find in front of him... but for some reason Harold did not seem very enamored by their offering.

Harold turned to the head of the pebble army and very quietly and very dangerously asked what exactly they meant by coming back with 'some bloke'. He also said a lot of other things too, but quite frankly I don't think I should repeat them in polite society.

After Harold had finished his, er, speech, the head of the pebble army cleared his throat nervously.

'Ahh, oh lord Harold. You told us to find the goodest thing in all creation, the worst thing in all creation, the most beautiful thing in all creation and the ugliest thing in all creation... So we... um... sort of... did. And let me tell you we had a bit of trouble with the whole 'goodest' thing – where the hell did you come up with 'goodest' anyway? Don't you own a dictionary?

Harold, who was by this time totally fuming, merely looked again at the bloke.

The bloke on the floor smiled at him again and tried to wave, but this didn't really work very well because his hands were chained behind his back so he just looked like he was imitating a performing seal.

'And who exactly,' he asked the bloke. 'Are you?'

This time the bloke positively beamed at Harold. 'Well now... you are not exactly going to like this very much, but... I don't actually know.'

Then the bugger actually winked...

'But I do know that I am called the Doctor.'

It was the start of a beautiful friendship.

THE END

Well who knew – sometimes it really does end happily ever after...