BACK IN TIME
After being thrown through the inner door, Grant had continued on, slamming into the far wall with such force that his glasses were knocked from his face. He dropped to the floor and wisely chose to stay there as the nauseating contortions continued. When the world finally seemed to return to normal, he shook his head to clear it, struggling to a sitting position. As he sat wondering what to do next, the console room door opened and the Doctor emerged, calling out at the same time. "Grant, did you feel—?" The Time Lord was instantly at his companion's side. "Are you alright?"
"I think so. I hit my head," the boy replied shakily, a hand going to the back of his head. It came away with blood on it.
"So you did. Come on, let's get you patched up." The Doctor helped his shaken companion to his feet, scooping up his eyeglasses at the same time. He took two steps and stopped dead, staring at a door that, to him, had suddenly appeared out of nowhere. "Now where did that come from?" he muttered, peering through the door. An involuntary cry escaped him when he saw the sickbay on the other side.
"What's the matter?"
Glancing down at his companion, the Doctor said, "I think the TARDIS is trying to apologize for her little tantrum just now. She's brought the sickbay to closer quarters."
Grant smiled knowingly but did not reply, following the Doctor into the room where the cut on his head was treated. On the counter across the room he saw Jason's collar of rank, which he himself had brought from the Alterran's old room and placed there. The original plan had been for him to fake being ill after the TARDIS's violent upheaval, but the TARDIS herself had had other ideas, apparently aiding in the deception of her master.
When the Doctor was finished with his ministrations, Grant put on his glasses and went to the counter. "Doctor, what's this?" he asked in as casual a tone as possible, picking up the collar.
"Now where did that come from?" the Time Lord wanted to know, taking the object and looking wistfully at it. The memories of its owner came to mind and he smiled. "You trying to tell me something, old thing?" he said to the TARDIS, looking up at the ceiling.
Grant was intrigued by this reaction. He was also glad Jason had coached him on the best way to handle the situation. He never would have known how to tease the information from the Doctor otherwise. "What is it?" he asked again.
The Doctor came out of his daze and smiled. "Oh, just something that belonged to a friend. A very old, very dear friend."
"Who left his belongings in the sickbay of your TARDIS?"
"Ah, yes, well. Companions have a tendency to do that, you see. Leave their belonging lying about. He was a doctor, as it happens. That's probably how this ended up in here." The Doctor handed the collar back to his companion and headed for the door, apparently satisfied that this was the end of the subject.
"How did you meet him?" Grant asked as he followed the Doctor from the room.
The Doctor scowled down at him. "Why do you ask?"
"You never tell me anything. You mention all these people like I should know who they are." Attempting to make his voice more forceful, Grant said, "The last time you did it, I decided I would ask the next time someone from your past came up."
The Time Lord stopped, studying his companion's expectant expression. "Fair enough," he said at last. "The collar belonged—belongs—to a former traveling companion by the name of Jason Krystovan. I met him on his home planet Tel-Shye…"
Mel was looking at the Doctor and Jason as if they had just lost their minds. She had burst into the console room and announced that l'X'el and K'ell'k had vanished from the sickbay only to have them explode into a fit of laughter.
"I'm not joking!" she said forcefully. "This is serious."
"We know," Jason replied. He crossed to her and gave her an enormous hug, planting a kiss on her cheek. "There's so much to tell you, I don't know where to start," he said happily.
"Don't overdo it, Jason," the Doctor admonished. With a smile of affection, he said, "You've been missing, Mel. Lost in space/time for a bit. And we've had a devil of a time getting you back again."
"Missing? What are you talking about?" Mel put her hands on her hips. "First the TARDIS tries to turn inside out, l'X'el and K'ell'k disappear right in front of me, and now you two are acting like I've been on the moon."
"Not quite the moon," the Doctor replied, his hands manipulating the controls. Looking up, he said to Jason, "Looks as though your theory about time being frozen was spot on."
"I'm glad I was right about something. Should make things easier for Grant."
"Which reminds me. Satisfy my curiosity. What did you do for Grant?"
Jason laughed. "I had him put my collar in the sickbay. After the switch he was going to find it and ask you about it—and me."
A stunned look came to the Doctor's face. "Good grief, he did at that," he said in a startled voice. "The TARDIS—" Breaking off, he gave a laugh. "The TARDIS played up one day and Grant struck his head in the corridor. I took him to the sickbay, which had inexplicably changed location, and…"
"The rest is history," Jason concluded with a grin.
The room was filled with the sound of the TARDIS materializing as it returned to its original location in the manipulator room. "Now, Mel," the Doctor said as he closed everything down, "time to get you caught up on what's been happening in your absence."
Mel scowled, and looked questioningly up at Jason. "Is he serious, or have you both gone completely mad?"
"Neither of us is mad, thank goodness," Jason replied with a grin. "And, amazingly, he's completely serious,"
"Come and meet some friends," the Doctor said as he pulled the door lever. "We'll tell you all about it." So saying, he vanished through the door.
"It's a long and complicated story." An odd look passed over Jason's face and he turned an affectionate gaze in the direction the Time Lord had taken. "And it looks like it may have a happy ending."
"It's a story that's getting longer by the second," the Doctor called through the door. "Come on, you two. I'm not getting any younger."
Random Chance © 2003 Margaret Price is an original work written for the enjoyment of Doctor Who fans everywhere. No copyright infringement is intended.
Thank you to Steve Lyons for the creation of Grant Markham.
And to Steve Parkhouse and John Ridgway for giving us Frobisher.
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
The next story in this series is another Sixth Doctor epic called "Trials and Transmutations," and is actually two stories in one.