Author's note: Yet another installment in the one off "New Doctor on the Block" series. Part 5 of 1. Thank you, Douglas Adams.
Okay, dedication time.
Warinbabylon, who wanted to know what the Doctors were up to after "The Morning After."
Gary Merchant, for requesting my third bit of lunacy in this ever expanding series.
Mouth On Legs, for inspiring the fourth one, its location and punch line.
Kittymommy, for her wonderful story "L'amour Looks Just Like You," which is referred to herein and can be found on the Whofic site.
Finally, my son and fellow Whovian, Jim, for his collaboration, beta reading, and additional lunacy, which he claims is genetic. Test results are inconclusive.
Whew. Did I miss anyone?
If I've left out your favorite companion, I can only say I'm sorry. If I'd included everyone this would have gone on forever.
The Ninth Doctor was dejectedly following the First. The latter had various articles of clothing over one arm, his silver tipped cane in the hand of the other. He stopped to look back at his gloomy companion, who was starting to lag behind.
"Well, do try to keep up, dear boy," he scolded.
"Where are we going, anyway?" the Ninth Doctor wanted to know, his voice sounding whiny, even to himself.
He had started out in London with all of his previous incarnations, only to wake up in the unlikely location of Baltimore, Maryland with none of his own clothes, a hangover the size of the Crab Nebula, several articles of clothing belonging to his previous selves, the First Doctor, and…Tegan, of all people! Worse yet, he had absolutely no idea what had happened in the interim.
He had been trailing after his previous self for what seemed like forever but did not seem to be getting anywhere. In fact, they did not seem to even be anywhere, the landscape, or lack thereof, reminding the Ninth Doctor of the Land of Fiction. White on white with white highlights. Charming. He was beginning to suspect he was being set up for further humiliation by his previous selves when a building suddenly appeared out of nowhere. He stopped dead in his tracks and stared at the enormous edifice, hearing the First Doctor chuckle at his reaction.
The Ninth Doctor took in the building in amazement. It rose dozens of stories high and spread out in either direction as far as the eye could see. Were it not for the massive size of it, he would have sworn it was a Grand Hotel of some sort. The large double doors at the entrance appeared to be made of stained glass, the Seal of Rassilon contained in the design. He was still taking in this impossible structure when the door opened and a figure appeared on the threshold, beckoning him over.
"Well, don't just stand there gauping!" the Eight Doctor called out. "Come in. Everybody's waiting for you."
Considering all that had happened the last time he got together with his previous incarnations, the Ninth Doctor was hesitant. He made his way slowly to the door, which was held open by the Eighth Doctor. "Am I going to regret this?" he asked suspiciously.
"Where's your sense of adventure?"
"In Baltimore," the Ninth Doctor replied miserably.
The Eighth Doctor snickered but did not reply, allowing the Ninth Doctor to enter. He turned to the First Doctor, who had been observing the exchange in amusement. "He didn't appreciate it, did he?"
"Alas, no," the First Doctor sighed in an unrepentant tone. "But then, none of you did," he added with an evil smile.
The Eighth Doctor caught the look, giving him a sideways glance. "For once, I envy you that."
The First Doctor chuckled and passed through the door. He came up beside the Ninth Doctor, who was standing glassy eyed just a few steps away. He threw him a knowing smile before loudly tapping his cane on the floor. "He's here everyone," he announced.
There was a short flight of steps in front of the little party, at the bottom of which stood the Fourth Doctor. He bounded up to them, an enormous smile on his face. "Lost in the Vortex, were we?" he asked, receiving his scarf back from the First Doctor. "We thought you'd never get here." He received a non-communicative snort in reply. Exchanged a knowing look with the Eighth Doctor, he asked conversationally, "How was Baltimore?"
"That's not funny," the Ninth Doctor replied sulkily. "Did you lot have to—?"
"Finally!" Another voice called from across the room. "Where's my—ah!" The Sixth Doctor received his coat back from the First and put it on. "How was Baltimore?"
"Is everyone going to ask me that?"
"Very probably," the Fifth Doctor replied, having appeared from the opposite direction. He pulled the stalk of celery from the Sixth Doctor's lapel and returned it to his own. "With the possible exception of Tegan, that is."
"That's not funny, either," the Ninth Doctor growled. "You're the one who started all that…that…" He left the sentence unfinished, waving a hand in the air.
"I didn't hear you complaining when it was you and Rose," the Fifth Doctor pointed out.
"That's not the point, is it?" came the defensive reply. "I mean, I ask you…Tegan?"
"At least I had the decency to do it in Paris," the Fifth Doctor retorted. "But…Baltimore?"
"Gives new meaning to the phrase lay-over, doesn't it?" the Sixth Doctor quipped.
The First and Eighth Doctors snickered. The Fifth merely shook his head, turning on his heel. "Baltimore…" he muttered as he strode off across the room.
The Sixth Doctor turned at the Eighth. "I think you're the official Tour Guide this time round."
"Always by the numbers," the Eighth Doctor replied happily before taking the Ninth by the arm and steering him further into the room. He received an angry glare in response and the arm was pulled sharply from his grasp. "Don't be like that," he said mildly. "We've all had our initiation in one form or another."
The Ninth Doctor gave him a dark look. "Initiation? Hang on, just what…?"
He suddenly seemed to snap back to reality, the fog in his mind lifting, allowing him to finally take stock of his surroundings. Like the building it was in, the room was enormous. He was standing on a landing near the top of a flight of steps. There was an elaborate railing at the edge of the landing that enclosed the center of the room. It was topped with a wooden ledge and had tall chairs set out along its length, reminding him of a nightclub. When he looked closer, he realized, with a jolt, that it was a nightclub. Against the far wall was an ample semi-circular bar. The Second Doctor was seated beside it, alternately playing his recorder and chatting with the Bartender, who was busily restocking the shelves.
There were tables and chairs filling the center of the room, the majority of which were unoccupied. In fact the only people in the room were the Fourth Doctor and a woman who was sitting with her back to the door. She was obviously dressed for an evening out, her dark hair pulled up on her head, a long gown flaring out at her feet. The Ninth Doctor suddenly realized that he had no idea whether it were morning, evening, or the middle of the afternoon, which he found slightly disconcerting. Well, it was more than slightly, but considering everything else it shrank in comparison.
Continuing his visual sweep of the room, he saw a large dance floor to his right. It was also devoid of people, silent and dark. To his left was a long hallway containing what appeared to be private rooms or offices with large plate glass windows at the front. The First and Sixth Doctors were making their way down this hallway and disappeared into one of the rooms. He could see the Third Doctor in the nearest room talking on the telephone.
He turned back to the Eighth Doctor, who had been silently watching him absorb his surroundings in obvious amusement. "Just what is this place?" he asked finally. "Where am I?"
"You're in Limbo," came the succinct reply.
"I heard you the first time."
Suddenly, the lights on the dance floor came to life and a voice called out over the sound system. "Good evenings, Ladies, Gentlemen and Species of indeterminate origin! Welcome to Club Limbo!"
"I don't know why he thinks that's funny," a tall, reptilian individual snorted before starting down the stairs.
"C'rizz, you promised to behave yourself," the Eighth Doctor called after him.
"I happen to agree with him, Doc," a voice replied from the bottom of the stairs.
The rest of the Eighth Doctor's admonishment was drowned out when music so loud that it practically deafened all present suddenly blasted through the sound system. It was immediately switched off, coming back on at a more reasonable level. "Sorry," the D.J. said apologetically. "Someone's been mucking about with the controls again."
"Hang on. I know that voice, too." The Ninth Doctor blinked when he took a closer look at the D.J. and realized it was Turlough. What the hell was going on here? Then he saw Tegan standing beside the D.J. station and stiffened involuntarily. She looked up at that moment, saw him looking in her direction and smiled broadly, waving the fingers of one hand at him before turning back to her conversation with Turlough.
"Doctor, I'm so glad you could make it!" another familiar voice called, and the Ninth Doctor felt a hand slapping him on the back. He turned and immediately recoiled. "The Master!" he gasped.
"Oh, dear," the Master tut-tuted, turning to the Eighth Doctor. "You haven't told him yet."
"Haven't exactly had the chance. He's only just arrived," the Eighth Doctor replied defensively.
The Ninth Doctor had to lean on the railing beside him as his knees inexplicably weakened at this point. Then he took in the people now filling the dance floor and was forced to sit down. Adric. Surely that was Adric dancing with…Jo Grant? There was Jamie with Victoria. Ian and Barbara. The Fourth Doctor was making his way to the dance floor with both Romanas, one on each arm.
"It's always a bit of a shock," the Master said understandingly from behind him. "You'll get used to it."
At that moment, a tall, regal looking woman arrived, smiling at the Master. "Am I late?" she asked.
"You are right on time, Romana," the Master replied, holding out his arm.
"Romana?" The Ninth Doctor's head was spinning now.
She gave him a dark look. "Yes. Number three."
"If you say one word about not being canon I'll give you a funny walk to go with that accent," Romana III said coldly before lightly descending the stairs with the Master. They made straight for the bar, greeting the Second Doctor, who was still happily playing his recorder despite the music coming from the dance floor.
The Bartender turned and the Ninth Doctor caught his breath, recognizing Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart. He put a hand to his head, watching in a daze as the Black and White Guardians joined the group at the bar. "I don't…understand any of this," he said in bewilderment. "Am I hallucinating?"
"Of course not. You regenerated," the Eighth Doctor said calmly.
"I am aware of that."
"Well, you knew you'd have to go somewhere."
The Ninth Doctor blinked. "I knew it. I'm in hell!"
The Eighth Doctor laughed, shaking his head. "The legends of Gallifrey and all that? No, I told you, you're in Limbo." He held out a hand. "Come on, let me show you around."
By the time the Ninth Doctor entered the massive computer room, his head was buzzing. He could not quite take it all in. They were all there. Not just his previous incarnations and companions, but his enemies, too. All coexisting quite amiably together in…well, limbo.
"Ah, there you are. I was wondering when you'd turn up."
The Ninth Doctor looked across the room, seeing the Seventh Doctor seated before a computer terminal. "Don't you dare ask me about Baltimore," he snapped.
A smile blossomed on the Seventh Doctor's face. "I wouldn't dream of it."
"I was going to ask you about Tegan."
The Ninth Doctor closed his eyes and silently counted to ten, wondering if it were possible to kill a previous incarnation.
"Has he seen everyone yet?" the Seventh Doctor asked the Eighth.
"Good, we can get down to—"
"Hang on a minute," the Ninth Doctor broke in. He had been taking in the room and suddenly realized what it was, and where he'd seen it before. "This is the Matrix room from Gallifrey!"
"Naturally," the Seventh Doctor replied patiently. "How else do you think we keep up with everything that's being said about us?"
"But…how did it get here?"
"We've had it since July of 2000."
The Ninth Doctor frowned. "Come again?"
It was the Eighth Doctor who replied. "That's when 'Ancestor Cell' was published. I destroyed Gallifrey and we got this."
"Much better than the mock up we had before," the Seventh Doctor injected.
"Don't you dare start talking canon again," the Eighth Doctor snapped. Waving a hand in the air, he said breezily, "Anyway, you destroyed Gallifrey in the Time War, so…same difference." He pulled on the dazed Ninth Doctor's sleeve. "Come on, there's more to see." He waved to the Seventh Doctor as he led the way to the door.
Sarah Jane Smith came through the door just as they reached it and she could not help smiling at the look of amazement on the Ninth Doctor's face. She took a photograph from a folder she had in her hands and looked him up and down. "Yes, you definitely look better in person," she said approvingly. Seeing his bewildered expression, her smile grew wide. "Nice coat, by the way," she remarked before crossing to the Seventh Doctor and handing him the folders.
"Come on," the Eighth Doctor said quietly.
"Now where are we going?"
The Ninth Doctor blinked. "Phone bank?"
It turned out the room the Ninth Doctor had seen the Third in earlier was part of the Phone Bank. When he and the Eighth Doctor entered, the Third Doctor was on the phone again.
"No, you've got it all garbled," the Third Doctor was saying. "It's reverse the polarity of the neutron flow. Neutron. No, not neuron, neutron." A pause. "Neutron! N-E-U-T-R-O-N." Another pause. "Do you have any neurons working in that pea brain of yours!" He slammed the phone down, uttering several uncomplimentary phases as he did so. Looking up, he finally registered the presence of the Eighth and Ninth Doctors and gave an embarrassed cough, rubbing the back of his neck with one hand.
"A bit of a problem with one of the writers?" the Eighth Doctor asked amusedly.
"Incompetent half-wit!" the Third Doctor snorted. "Not only does he have me completely out of character, but he can't even get my best bit of technobabble right."
"Hang on a minute," the Ninth Doctor gasped. "Are you saying that writers actually call here for advice on us?"
"Yes. And the good ones actually listen," the Third Doctor snorted. "Not that that boob I was just talking to is one of them. He'll be lucky to make it to mediocre. Actually had the gall to argue with me about my sonic screwdriver." He looked accusingly at the Ninth Doctor. "You had to go and change the design, didn't you?"
"Never mind that," the Eighth Doctor said quickly, steering the Ninth Doctor out the door. "We still have a tour to finish."
"Is there much more," the Ninth Doctor wanted to know. A sudden thought struck him and he looked up and down the corridor. "I've just thought of something."
"Yes…" came the patient reply.
"Rose. And Captain Jack. Shouldn't they be here, too?"
"Ah." The Eighth Doctor shifted on his feet. He had hoped to avoid this issue. "No. Not until they're retired from the show."
"Yes. You know, no longer active characters."
The Ninth Doctor stood staring a moment, still trying to get his head around everything he had learned so far. He was shown his quarters, which were in a section of the building known as "The Doctors' Block." Nice apartment, really. He had to admit that. And everything from the TARDIS had already been moved in for him.
The tour finally ended at an area of the building that was currently under construction. One wall had been knocked out and wood framing was being erected outside.
"This is the new wing," the Eight Doctor explained. "Ever since you and the bloody BBC went and changed what was accepted as canon, we've had to shift quite a few things about."
The Ninth Doctor looked at the stacks and stacks of boxes lining the hallway beside him. They seemed to go on forever. He nodded in their direction. "What is all this?"
"All of my stuff, not that you'd care," an angry voice replied from behind one stack. It was followed by a rather scruffy looking young man, who had a drink in one hand and lit cigarette in the other.
"Fitz, you promised to stop whining," the Eighth Doctor said sharply. "And what did I tell you about smoking back here!"
"Like you care. You didn't get evicted, did you?"
"Evicted?" The Ninth Doctor was nonplused.
This only seemed to make Fitz all the more angry. "I'm not canon anymore," he spat sarcastically.
"I'm never going to hear the end of that, am I?"
"'Fraid not," the Eighth Doctor replied.
"So, what am I suppose to do now that I'm here?" the Ninth Doctor wanted to know.
The Eighth Doctor exchanged a knowing look with Fitz before turning, holding out a hand to take in the ongoing construction project. "You're in charge of the expansion," he announced startlingly. He crossed to a table upon which the blueprints for the project were laid out.
"Me? Why me?"
"Because it is rather your fault, isn't it?"
"Fantastic," the Ninth Doctor moaned. He looked at the drawings, feeling more and more depressed as he paged through them.
"Just look on the bright side," the Eighth Doctor said happily from beside him. He received a look of thunder in response. It was all too obvious the Ninth Doctor could not see a bright side in any way shape or form.
"What bright side?" he spat back.
"Well…now that I've done my bit, you are in charge of the next official Tour." The Eighth Doctor paused before adding, "And initiation."
The Ninth Doctor gave him a blank look. Then an evil gleam came to his eyes, and the manic grin that had been absent from his face for days returned in full glory.