CHAPTER 24

QUESTIONS

After seeing Constance off, Jason went directly to the TARDIS, half expecting to find the Doctor and Leela waiting for him. Instead he found the console room empty and looked around in bewilderment. "Nobody's here," he remarked as K-9 came trundling through the door behind him.

"Observation correct, Young Master," K-9 chirped.

Jason grinned down at him, removing his jewel encrusted ceremonial collar of rank and rubbing a thumb over its gleaming surface. Heaving a heavy sigh, he then carelessly hung the symbol of his status and birthright from the hat stand just inside the door. "I won't be needing you anymore," he muttered gratefully.

Hitting the door lever, the Alterran aristocrat watched with a sense of relief as the double doors swung shut on his race's mother world. "Goodbye, Lord Krystovan," he intoned, waving a hand at the closing doors. His body shimmered and replacing his elaborate clothing were his less formal, and much preferred, multicolored shirt, blue jeans, and sneakers. "Hello, Jason!" he said happily.

The Doctor entered at that moment carrying a toolbox. "Well, it's about time you got here," he said disapprovingly. He hit the dematerialization switch and the time rotor lit up, rising and falling as the TARDIS took flight. "Did you find the young lady you seem so fond of telling me about?"

"Shadra." Jason flushed slightly, lowering his eyes. "And, no, actually, I didn't. I seem to've missed her again."

The Time Lord gave an indignant snort, setting down the toolbox.

"Where's Leela?" Jason asked conversationally.

"I believe she said something about changing her clothes," the Doctor muttered as he crawled underneath the control console. He pulled open one of the panels of the pedestal and scrutinized its interior. His companion, in turn, bent down to scrutinize him. "Doctor?"

The Doctor jumped, banging his head on the underside of the console. "What?" he snapped irritably.

Stifling a laugh, the Alterran said calmly, "I wonder if you might do me a small favor?"

Rubbing his bruised head, the Time Lord threw him a fierce scowl, obviously in no mood to be doing anyone any favors.

Undaunted, Jason went on to say, "I wonder if you might be so good as to reprogram K-9 so he'll stop following me around? Now that I'm back to normal, it's getting very annoying."

Now it was the Doctor's turn to laugh, having completely forgotten about the monitoring program. He gave K-9 a quick verbal command and then looked up at his companion. "There you are, my boy. Your watchdog nurse has been assigned to other duties." So saying, he returned his attention to the interior of the control console, pulling out several circuit boards and examining them carefully.

After several minutes, Jason cleared his throat nervously. "Doctor, I've been meaning to ask you something, and well…what with everything that's happened, I…eh, never got the chance."

His tone intrigued the Time Lord, who leaned back and peered up at him from under the con sole. "Sounds serious."

"It is. Well, it is to me, anyway," the young man replied. "I'd like to ask you something, Doctor, and I'd appreciate an honest answer."

"My dear Jason, I always give honest answers."

"I meant honest as in candid, actually."

"Ah! Well, in that case, I'll do my best."

Jason met his friend's inquiring gaze steadily. "Doctor, you're the first outsider who's ever seen me. The real me, that is, and…well…I wanted to know… I mean, I needed to know…"

Suddenly the reason for his companion's ill ease became clear and the Doctor's eyes grew wide. "Ah! You want to know my reaction?"

"Yes."

The Doctor drew a deep breath, thinking back on the extraordinary creature he now knew to be the Alterran's true self. Against other humanoids, his Time Lord body was superior in many ways, yet against Tobias in his true form he had been completely helpless, the agility, dexterity and shear physical power that the Alterran possessed being many times greater than his own.

When the Doctor met Jason, he had saved his life after a misfire. By the time he had gotten to him, the Alterran's body had degenerated into a weak, formless mass. It was this the Doctor assumed was his true form, a form that required a humanoid appearance for more than just concealment. It was all too obvious now that he had been gravely mistaken. In his true form Jason was virtually invincible.

Virtually invincible. How could that possibly apply to the slight, almost fragile youth who stood beside him? Jason could be so exceptionally gentle mannered it was easy to overlook his occasional flashes of temper. Flashes? Eruptions, the Doctor thought, reflecting back on his companion's reference to his temper as Mt. Jason. A temper he had known nothing about until their journey to Aegis. A temper that even the Lord Emperor was concerned about, his unsettling words returning to mind.

Impatiently waiting for a response, Jason misinterpreted his friend's long silence as reluctance to speak openly. This seemed even more likely when he saw the Doctor's face darken. Feeling rejected and somewhat betrayed, he gave way to an involuntary shudder and turned away, hugging himself.

"Jason, I—" The Doctor looked up to see the Alterran in obvious distress. "What on earth's the matter?"

"You think I'm a monster, don't you?"

"A what?"

"A monster. A revolting creature. That's what I look like to you, isn't it?"

"My dear Jason, I knew Alterrans were a non-humanoid lifeform long before I met you," the Doctor countered. "I'll admit, you're not what I expected, but that hardly makes you a monster."

His companion merely snorted in disbelief.

"Do I look like a monster to you?" the Time Lord asked innocently.

Clearly appalled, Jason spun around. "No! Of course not! How could you even—?"

"Well, why not? Using your own logic, I should do."

His companion blushed vividly. "I…eh, never thought of it that way."

The Doctor grunted. "Jason, you're a member of one of the most extraordinary races I've ever en countered. You should be proud of who and what you are, not ashamed. Quite frankly, it's quite beyond me why you hide yourselves at all."

The Alterran's mouth dropped open. "I…I…don't know what to say."

"You wanted a candid answer," the Doctor said tersely before returning to his work. He poked around inside the pedestal for several minutes, apparently without success. Heaving an exasperated sigh, he extracted him self from the confines of the console's interior to find Jason sitting cross-legged on the floor be side him holding out one of the circuit boards.

"This one, I think," the youth informed innocently. "Just a loose connection on—"

"Did you scan my TARDIS?" the Doctor asked accusingly.

Jason flushed slightly. "Well, a small portion of it. It is rather large, you know."

The Time Lord snorted. "You know, I was going to ask you more about your true self when you felt more comfortable," he said as he fixed the lose connection, "but now I think—"

Jason wasn't listening. "Doctor, do you really think I'm extraordinary?"

The Doctor looked over at him and smiled broadly. "Without question."


The next story in this arc - TERROR ON DELTA VEGA


Whom The Gods Destroy © Margaret Price 1992 is an original work written for the enjoyment of Doctor Who fans everywhere.
No copyright infringement is intended.
Original series broadcast on the BBC. Format © BBC 1963
Doctor Who and Tardis are trademarks of the BBC.
The story and all other original characters are © Margaret Price