The Doctor and Mickey strolled out of Jackie's flat. The Doctor walked right, Mickey walked left.
"Oi, Doctor! Where are you going?"
"The TARDIS. Why, where are you going?"
"Oh, okay. Bye then."
Mickey spread his arms in exasperation and hurried after the Doctor. "We promised Rose we were only going for a cup of tea."
"There's tea in the TARDIS, Mickey. Also, coffee, hot chocolate, soup, and this sort of warm jellyfish extract which is very popular on certain planets. I'm quite fond of it, tastes a bit like chicken."
"I'll just have the tea, I think," Mickey said, following the Doctor down the steps and into the TARDIS.
The Doctor wasn't good at sitting still. After the first cup of tea he was drumming his fingers on the table, after the second his left leg was jiggling up and down. And by the time they were demolishing a packet of chocolate biscuits he was pacing the kitchen and talking a mile a minute.
He stopped right in the middle of a lecture about the superiority of hob nobs over jaffa cakes when it came to stopping alien invasions and said, "Is that enough time?"
"Time for what?" spluttered Mickey around a mouthful of chocolate digestive.
"Rose said she wanted to spend some time with Jackie. And we've been here for a least, oh, twenty minutes. That's time, right?"
Mickey laughed. "Okay, Doctor, when I was going out with Rose I never left her on a space ship to go and shag some eighteenth century French girl, but I'm guessing she meant more than half an hour or so."
"Oh. Okay." The Doctor sat down and helped himself to a biscuit. His leg started to jiggle again. "Cardiff!" he exclaimed, jumping to his feet and bolting from the room.
Mickey, wiping crumbs from his t-shirt, followed. The Doctor was in the console room dancing around the controls.
"Cardiff! Brilliant place, always rains, space time rift running right through the middle of it!"
"Do I want to know why you're going on about Cardiff?"
"The TARDIS needs refuelling, and Cardiff is a boring trip usually. So, you and I could nip over and fill her up and be back in time to take Rose somewhere good." The Doctor stopped dashing in circles long enough to look right at Mickey. "I'll even let you pick where. Perhaps, maybe..."
Mickey could recognise a bad idea when he heard one. Rose would be furious if she knew they'd gone anywhere without her, even on a refuelling trip to Wales. And Mickey had heard enough about the Doctor's driving to know that there was every chance that they'd get to Cardiff and step out of the TARDIS just in time to get eaten by a tyrannosaurus rex.
"Oh, come on. It's only Cardiff, and we'll be back as soon as we've gone…No, you're sure? Okay, let's go back to the kitchen and I'll finish telling you about the time I fought off an invasion of giant ants armed only with a hob nob."
"So, let's go to Cardiff then."
"This isn't Cardiff."
"You don't know that," said the Doctor. "It could very well be Cardiff. If Cardiff was a space station, and in a different galaxy, and populated entirely by pandas…"
The two men exchanged a look. "Know what, Mickey? I don't think this is Cardiff."
It was pitch black and raining when they exited the TARDIS again. The Doctor took a deep lungful of damp air and declared, "Cardiff, definitely, I'd know it anywhere."
"Yeah, but when? I mean am I about to be carted off as a slave or molested by another space panda?" Mickey rubbed at the half healed claw marks on his cheek.
"Oh, stop complaining. You got that sexual harassment compensation didn't you?" The Doctor strode over to a nearby rubbish bin and produced a damp newspaper. "Two years in your future, Mickey, a Tuesday."
So that was how the Doctor found out the date, Mickey had always thought it was some sort special Time Lord power. He shoved his hands deep into his pockets, "What do we do now?"
"Well, the TARDIS will take a few hours to fill up," he locked the police box door. "Until then, how about a little bit of dinosaur hunting?"
"There are these rumours flying around about a pterodactyl being seen in Cardiff, also flying about. I've always meant to check it out. You do know what a pterodactyl is, don't you?"
"Course I do, I'm not a complete idiot."
"It's a sort of a cat, yeah?"
The Doctor looked at Mickey, aghast.
"I'm kidding, I'm kidding. Let's go."
The Doctor fiddled with his sonic screwdriver for a moment. "That thing work as a dinosaur detector now too?" Mickey asked.
"Of course it does," the Doctor said in a tone of voice that implied that it had never occurred to him to carry around something that couldn't be used to track down stray dinosaurs. "This way!"
When Rose had told Mickey about her travels with the Doctor it had all seemed to be alien planets and excitement and adventures. So far his experiences had been of nearly being cut up and used for spare parts by some mad clockwork robots, being molested by a desperately single space panda and traipsing through Cardiff in the rain looking for a dinosaur that he was beginning to suspect didn't exist.
"Did you hear that?"
"Hear what?" And then Mickey heard it, a scream.
"Come on!" The Doctor grabbed Mickey's arm and wrenched him down the street. If Mickey had been less secure in his sexuality, or less concerned about the source of those screams, he might have been a little worried that he and the Doctor were holding hands as they ran. As it was he was only starting to consider pulling his fingers free when he rang smack bam into a solid object.
The solid object in question turned out to be a big Welsh bloke.
"Sorry, man," the big bloke apologised. The Doctor was attempting to drag Mickey further down the street before he managed to get to his feet. "I wouldn't go down that way."
"Why not?" asked the Doctor, standing still long enough to let Mickey scramble to his feet.
"It's…" the Welsh bloke sighed. "Its aliens okay. I'm just about to phone my girlfriend she knows all about these things."
The Doctor easily snatched the mobile phone from the Welsh bloke's hand. "Oh, no need to bother her, me and Mickey are here now." He looked Mickey up and down, "Well, I'm here now."
The Doctor scrubbed his hand through his hair. "So, these aliens, where are they?"
"Down there. In the shopping centre, I think there's some kind of nest."
The Doctor pelted off down the street, pausing just long enough to ask, "Sorry, what was your name?"
Mickey watched the Doctor dash off into the distance. "I know the Doctor seems mad, and that's cause he is mad, but he really does know what he's doing with this alien invasion stuff. Look, I'd better get after him."
"I'll come too. I only left to get some help." And Mickey and Rhys followed in the Doctor's dust.
A little over three hours later the Doctor and Mickey were sitting on the kerb covered in green alien slime.
The Doctor took a huge bite out of a biscuit and said, "I told you I could save the world using only a hob nob."
"Yeah, I think it might have helped when Rhys ran over the nest queen in that van."
Mickey looked over at where Rhys was talking to one of the PC's that were standing around outside the shopping centre looking confused. He elbowed the Doctor gently in the ribs, "We should show him the TARDIS."
"Because it's cool and he saved our lives."
"Your life maybe, I'd have regenerated."
"Okay, he saved my life and I think we should show him the TARDIS as a thank you."
"Oh, alright. Hey, Rhys!" The Doctor bounded over and began to steer Rhys in the direction of the TARDIS.
"I'm sorry, sir," said one of the police officers. "I can't allow you to leave the scene."
The Doctor whipped out the psychic paper. "I'm with-"
"-Torchwood." The PC finished.
The Doctor looked quizzically at the psychic paper, "Torchwood, what on earth is..? Never mind, come on you two!"
"It's bigger on the inside," said the Doctor watching Rhys take in the TARDIS console room.
"It travels in time."
"Oh, yeah…" said Rhys.
"You can get the sports channels on the monitors," said Mickey, doing his bit to eke a bit of enthusiasm out of Rhys.
"It's very nice."
"Look, I don't think you're following me," said the Doctor, starting to get annoyed. This was the TARDIS, the last TARDIS in the universe. It was more than just very nice. "It can go anywhere in time, past or future. I'll prove it, pick anywhere in history and I'll take you there."
Rhys mused on this for a moment. "The last time Wales won the six nations."
The Doctor was thoroughly unimpressed. "That was only a few years ago."
"I know. I couldn't get a ticket."
In 2005 they watched Wales beat Ireland at the Millennium Stadium. Rhys shouted himself hoarse; the Doctor demonstrated a surprisingly thorough knowledge of dirty rugby songs. And Mickey, whose knowledge of rugby was about as comprehensive as his knowledge of quantum mechanics, was pretty much baffled throughout.
Afterwards they returned Rhys to Cardiff.
"So, you don't want to have another look for the mystery pterodactyl?" Mickey asked.
The Doctor took it upon himself to explain to Rhys. "There's this rumour about a dinosaur in Cardiff, probably nothing."
"No, it's here. Belongs to Gwen, well, Gwen's boss really."
"Your girlfriend's got a pet pterodactyl?"
"She swears it's trained."
"Oh, good," said the Doctor in the tone of voice of someone who meant precisely the opposite.
Rhys had his jacket on and was halfway out of the TARDIS, so the Doctor had already forgotten he was there and was nagging Mickey to get on with picking an alien planet that they could take Rose to when they picked her up in London.
"Hang on," Rhys said, "are you saying that you can go to other planets with this thing? Actual, honest to god, alien planets?"
"Did you forget to tell him about the 'travels in space' thing?" asked Mickey with a smirk.
"Not my fault, lately people have been more impressed with the time travel bit." Still, thought the Doctor, there was the enthusiasm that Rhys had been lacking earlier.
"Rhys, have you ever heard of the nine glorious planets of the kyrax coalition?"
"Not so I remember, no."
"Then you're in for a treat. Hang on to something!" The Doctor set the coordinates, did some un-necessary dashing around the console for the look of the thing and then hit the dematerialisation switch.
Mickey, who had his arms locked tightly around the nearest pillar, looked at Rhys and said, "No, seriously mate, hang on to something."
"Oh, my God," said Rhys when they arrived on the first planet.
The Time Lords had never really believed in gods but if they had the Doctor was sure he'd have shared the sentiment.
"Oh, my God," said Mickey, who was the last out of the TARDIS. The Doctor felt slightly smug that this had indeed been the best place to start, Even Mickey agreed, and everyone knew he wasn't that bright.
The twin suns were rising over the horizon, close enough that it seemed as though you could reach out and touch them. And on the plain below the twenty foot lizards that made this world their home were basking waiting for the heat of the suns to warm their blood.
It was true that if you went too far from the TARDIS then the heat from the suns would flash fry you in seconds, the gravity would crush you to the size of pea and the lizards would have what was left as a mid-morning snack. But providing that you didn't stray too far from the TARDIS doorway then it was beautiful.
The Doctor managed to catch Rhys by the collar of his shirt just before he strayed too far.
The Doctor made a teensy weensy little navigational error and landed them on the second planet during one of the less glorious points of the coalition's history. In fact they emerged from the TARDIS just in time to be taken hostage by the terrorists who were threatening to blow up the government building.
"This isn't when the revolution happens," the Doctor told the terrorist leader. "It will happen, I promise you that. But not now, not today."
Everything Mickey knew about hostage negotiation had been learned from late night action movies and episodes of The Bill, and he still didn't think much of the Doctor's approach to diplomacy.
Distracted as he was by the Doctor waffling on and the fear that he was about to be shot that it took him longer than it really should have to decipher the increasingly emphatic gestures the Doctor was making behind his back as meaning 'get the hostages out the back door.'
Under the cover of the Doctor's diversion he quickly herded the hostages out into the fresh air. He immediately found himself shoved behind a police barricade where he fretted about the Doctor and Rhys.
There was nothing to worry about, he told himself. The Doctor was the Doctor, and Rhys was a big Welsh rugby playing type, they didn't need Mickey Smith to rescue them.
Mickey sighed and started looking for a way back into the building that wouldn't attract the attention of the local police. Who, okay, were only four feet tall but they did carry guns almost as big as themselves. He was considering the merits of an open window when the main doors of the building opened, and out came several cuffed terrorists, a lot of local police, and the Doctor and Rhys who walked casually over.
Mickey let out a deep breath. "What happened?"
"Oh, I managed to talk them down," said the Doctor nonchalantly. "All except the leader, but some people are just stubborn."
"But you got the leader, yeah. That's him being manhandled into that police hovercraft."
"Oh!" the Doctor bounced forward and turned around so he was walking backwards in front of Rhys and Mickey, facing them. "Rhys tackled him just before he could reach the detonator."
"It was nothing," Rhys shrugged.
"Best ruby tackle I've seen outside New Zealand, or New New Zealand, or New New New New Zealand." The Doctor paused to draw breath before carrying on. "New New New Zealand's not a big rugby playing colony for some reason, probably too busy worrying about the daleks. Anyway, back to the TARDIS!"
The third planet was totally unfit for humanoid habitation.
"Human habitation, Time Lord habitation," the Doctor gave Rhys a look. "Even Welsh habitation."
Rhys rolled his eyes. "You're pretty funny for a bloke I just saved from getting blown up an alien midget."
"Why," Mickey asked, "are we sitting here if we can't go outside?"
"I promised to show Rhys the nine glorious planets of the coalition, not the eight glorious planets skipping over the one that's not quite as good for the others."
"So we're just going to sit here and look at it on the scanner."
The Doctor muttered some unkind things about humans under his breath. "The three hundred and ninth world cup final's on the other channel."
Rhys and Mickey were unavailable for comment for the next ninety minutes plus injury time.
The Doctor was very highly thought of on the fourth planet of the coalition. Mainly because he'd only been there once or twice and had always left before anything dreadful happened.
He used his influence, along with the psychic paper and his particular brand of hyperactive charm to arrange them an audience with the King.
The King, the all powerful and unquestioned ruler of the planet. And Mickey and Rhys had laughed right at him.
Later, when he had just about given up on resonating granite as a plan for getting them out of their cell, the Doctor glared at Rhys and Mickey. "I can't take you pair anywhere, can I?"
"Oh, come on, man," Rhys argued. "If you'd given us some warning we wouldn't have laughed."
"He's the king!"
"He's a Labrador puppy!" pointed out Mickey.
"An incredibly powerful Labrador puppy who can keep us locked up in here for the rest of my incredibly long life."
The Doctor finally managed to get the lock open, which still left him with the problem of how to move the huge lump of granite their captors were using as a door. He looked over at Rhys and Mickey. He knew there was a reason he was carting them around the galaxy.
"Hey, you two, come over here and put your shoulders into this."
They visited the fifth planet early on in its colonisation. Rhys introduced rugby sevens to the colonists, Mickey introduced five a side.
While they were busy the Doctor nipped forward a couple of centuries in the TARDIS to put a stop to the holy wars that had broken out over which sport was better.
He'd always wondered how that one got started.
"You can't get a decent pint in space," Rhys complained, drinking what felt like his thirty seven millionth cup of tea from the TARDIS kitchen.
"Or pizza," Mickey added, "can't find a pizza for love or money."
The Doctor was fiddling with a circuit board at the kitchen table apparently ignoring their complaints. But when they arrived on the sixth planet he materialised them right outside a restaurant where they could get a good approximation of a pizza. Only an approximation because the Doctor said tomatoes had been outlawed by the high priestess on the grounds that they were an amoral mixture of fruit and vegetable.
Religious nutters were the same everywhere, Rhys thought. And once you got past the fact that the beer was pink it tasted like a pretty decent pint of heavy.
And okay the meal would probably have been more fun if Mickey hadn't been cowering under the table next to Rhys's legs but you couldn't have everything.
"What's up with Mickey then?"
The Doctor, who had given the pink beer a miss in favour of stirring a cup of the local tea with his sonic screwdriver, nodded over at the occupants of the next table who looked a bit like pandas. "He had a bit of a traumatic experience with one of the panda people a while ago. He'll come out when he's hungry."
On the seventh coalition planet the Doctor announced himself as The Last of the Time Lords. The immediate result of this was that the natives strung the three of them upside down by their ankles.
The Doctor had a go at undoing his manacles but they'd taken his sonic screwdriver from him and Time Lord or not there was little he could do against solid iron with his bare hands.
Meanwhile Mickey and Rhys were talking about what any two red blood males would talk about when hanging upside down from the ceiling on an alien planet, woman troubles.
"…And she always said she couldn't talk about it so I thought that it was the terrorism squad, as you would. Next thing it turns out that she's not even in the police anymore, instead she's working for this annoyingly good looking American lunatic, catching aliens."
"At least your girlfriend only arrests aliens; mine chucked me and ran off with one."
With a renewed sense of purpose the Doctor threw himself upwards and caught hold of his chains. He was going to get out of this dungeon if it was the last thing he did, and he might even consider taking Rhys and Mickey with him.
The eighth planet was an ocean. Nothing else, just a big planet shaped ocean. All in all it was lucky that the TARDIS could float because it was what the three men were using as a raft.
"Let me guess," said Mickey, "There was an island here last time."
"Nope, just the ocean."
Mickey and Rhys exchanged a look that said 'if we pushed him over the edge do you think he'd be able to swim.'
"Ah, here we go," the Doctor exclaimed. "It's getting dark!"
It was getting dark, which was clearly a good time to be huddled on a blue box in the middle of an alien ocean containing god knows what. Mickey was just about to vocalise this when the sun disappeared behind the horizon. And the ocean, which in the sunlight had looked unremarkably ocean like suddenly glowed silver, gold fish flickered just beneath the surface. The sky was lit up by meteorites plummeting down and splashing into the water, scattering the fish with little sparks of gold and silver. It was incredible.
"Don't say I don't take you anywhere good, oh yes!"
They visited the ninth and main planet for the celebrations the day the coalition was formed. It was nice, there was a parade. Both Rhys and Mickey enjoyed it as much as they could while looking constantly over their shoulders for soldiers coming to clap them in irons.
They joined the party goers heading through the gardens towards the seat of government. At one point they were hoisted up into the air by the revellers, who twice came close to dropping Rhys.
As the crowd reached the top of the steps leading down to the palace the Doctor hung back catching Mickey and Rhys by the arms. "Look at it. Just look at it. Thousands of people, nine different species and they're going to form an empire that'll rule this part of the galaxy in peace for five hundred years."
They looked down at the celebrations carrying on below. "I don't think much of their music," said Rhys.
"That's a sort of a bagpipe," explained the Doctor. "A universal constant is the bagpipe."
There were many wonderful things out in the universe. There were many terrible things too.
"Right!" the Doctor looked at both his wrists just to make absolutely sure that he didn't wear a watch, he then grabbed Mickey's wrist and looked at his watch. "What do you say, Mickey, that seem about long enough for a cup of tea?"
"Just about, yeah."
Before going back to London they dropped Rhys off at his correct place and time, also known as Cardiff in the rain.
The Doctor pretended to be doing something important to the console. He was terrible at goodbyes and when people who'd been travelling with him left it sometimes got a bit emotional.
Rhys clapped the Doctor and Mickey heartily on the shoulder. "Thanks for the trip boys. It's been really something," and he strolled happily out of the TARDIS without looking back.
…And sometimes it didn't get a bit emotional.
They got back to London and Mickey made the Doctor triple check that they weren't accidentally ten years before or after they'd left.
"Nope, bang on target." The Doctor flung the TARDIS doors open and ran outside. With his brown suit and unlikely hair he looked exactly the same as he had the day they'd left. As for Mickey he couldn't remember what he'd been wearing the day they'd gone to Cardiff, but he didn't flatter himself that Rose would notice that his clothes had changed, she probably wouldn't even notice that he'd had his hair cut.
He went out of the TARDIS to see Rose being spun round in a circle by the Doctor and Jackie looking on disapprovingly.
"You missed me then," she said when the Doctor put her down.
"Course I did," said the Doctor, "We've been-"
Mickey stood heavily on his foot. "-In the kitchen drinking tea."
"Exciting. How am I ever going to keep up with you two, eh?"
Hand in hand the Doctor and Rose headed back into the TARDIS.
"I half hoped you and him would go without her," said Jackie.
"Nah, never happen," with a wave at Jackie Mickey followed his friends into the blue box. A moment later it vanished.