Author's note: A sequel to "What was lost". Luke is up at university, but the Doctor hasn't forgotten his promise.
Now is found
They walked in under the main gate, the tower tall above them, and Luke grinned at the porter in his bowler hat.
"Lovely day!" the porter returned, smiling a wide Caribbean smile.
"So, this is me," Luke said to Maria.
She was gazing wide-eyed. "It's beautiful. I can't believe how beautiful it is." She stopped walking and turned around slowly, the better to take in all four sides of the quadrangle. "Makes Warwick look a bit dull."
Luke led the way across the quad. "It's not all like this. There is concrete. And peeling paint and stuff. But, yeah, it's not bad."
Maria linked her arm in his. "What does Sarah Jane think?"
"She's still just pleased I got in," said Luke. "I think she's always felt a bit guilty for keeping me at school and not sending me anywhere else."
"Oh, c'mon, you were always going to get into a decent uni," Maria said. "The only question ever was Oxford or Cambridge."
They passed through another archway, and through some cloisters, down a passageway with uneven flagstones beneath their feet.
"You can just feel the history," Maria went on, as they headed towards the building opposite. "Like, all the people who have been here, they all walked this way too."
Luke punched in the doorcode and they climbed the flights of stairs to his room, overlooking the pathway to the river - busy on this bright spring day.
"D'you ever wonder," Maria said, as Luke began making them mugs of tea, "if things would've been different, if you'd well, if you'd gone with him, all those years ago?"
He stirred sugar into Maria's mug and passed it to her before settling down in one of the two ancient and lumpy armchairs.
"Things would've been very different," he agreed. "But I think Mum was right to stop me. I was too young."
"I always wish we'd got to see inside his ship," Maria said, dreamily, looking out of the window. "Sarah Jane said it was beautiful."
Luke reached for a packet of chocolate digestives. "Biscuit? Why are we talking about the Doctor? How's Warwick?"
They left ancient history behind them in discussions of university life. In the evening, Luke took Maria to dinner in the college's majestic hall and they drank too much cheap wine before going out to a club. Their feet stuck to the floor and the air smelt of bad perfume and student bodies, but the music was good and it was late when they stumbled back to Luke's room, Maria collapsing into a sleeping bag on the floor.
She left the next afternoon on a bus back to her own university, and with a sigh Luke made another cup of tea and tried to focus on his Descartes essay.
As he finally went to sleep, his hangover dissipating and the essay (not one of his best efforts) done, Luke's mind slipped back to the Doctor - that old friend of his mother's, who years ago had offered to take Luke with him on his journeys through time and space. He had not gone, but the offer had always hung over his head, and he drifted off to sleep with a memory of the Doctor's time-travelling ship in his mind.
He woke in the middle of the night with the feeling that he had heard the sound of the ship's engines, but the room was dark and there was silence. Luke turned over, pulled the covers over himself a little more firmly, and went back to sleep.
In the morning he was awoken by the shrill noise of his alarm, and it took three attempts to actually get up. He splashed water on his face and turned to open the curtains.
Outside it was another lovely day, but it was not this that caught Luke's attention. Instead, he found himself staring at a blue box labelled "Police" that had materialised in the meadow opposite. He blinked, rubbed his eyes, and blinked again. The box was still there, although nobody seemed to be paying it very much attention.
Luke threw some clothes on and ran outside, almost knocking over a group of elderly tourists in his hurry. He muttered an apology and kept running to stand by the fence near the box.
It was quiet and still, and as improbable as it had been six years earlier. Luke wondered if he would be spotted if he tried climbing over the fence, but remembered something his mother had said about the box being impregnable to attack. If, indeed, it was the same box - a ship, really. It could have been a student prank for some reason; maybe another joke by the college across the road.
After a few more moments he turned away. There were lectures to get to, library books to take back
"Luke! Luke Smith!" Luke turned. The door of the box had opened and a tall man was leaning out of it. "Yes, you!" he said, waving at Luke.
Luke went back to the fence. "Doctor," he said.
The Doctor came out of the box and came to lean on the fence. "I knew it was you. You haven't changed much."
"You haven't changed at all!" said Luke, looking at him. "You're even wearing the same suit."
The Doctor glanced down at himself, at the pin-striped suit he was wearing. "I suppose I am. Well, it's a good suit. But we're not here to talk about me, we're here to talk about you! Oxford, eh? How long have you been here? What are you studying?"
"Physics and philosophy," said Luke, "and it's almost the end of my second term. And I've got a lecture in less than an hour."
"Good choice," the Doctor said, approvingly. "Covers all the basics, does physics and philosophy. I taught physics once, you know."
"Well," said Luke, "I've kind of got to go and get ready for the lecture "
The Doctor straightened and climbed over the fence. "Brilliant, I'll come along."
Luke considered arguing, but gave up and simply shrugged. The Doctor stuck his hands in the pockets of his long coat and strolled along by his side as they made their way back into the college.
"Maria was here yesterday," Luke said. "She came down for the weekend." He opened the door at the bottom of his staircase. "She was wondering about you."
"Wondering what about me?" The Doctor took the steps two at a time. "This place hasn't changed!"
"You've been here before?"
"Tremendous party," said the Doctor, grinning. "Down that very hallway, I think," he waved a hand as they climbed past it. "Evelyn Waugh managed to remember some of it. Do they still have cows?"
Luke nodded. "In the meadow. They make cream." He pushed open his door and let the Doctor in. "What are you doing here?"
His visitor turned from peering out of the window. "I said I'd come back for you."
"That was six years ago," Luke pointed out, "and anyway I didn't say I wanted to come with you."
"Oh." The Doctor scratched his neck. "Right. So you don't want to come with me?"
"Were you going to ask?" Luke questioned, finding his notepad and pen and putting them into his rucksack. "Couldn't you have waited until I'd finished university?" He went to the door, put on his jacket, and waited for the Doctor to go out before closing it behind him. "Have you seen Mum recently?"
"Blimey, all these questions!" said the Doctor. "I went to see Sarah the other week, except it's ten years to go until she'll see me, so I can't tell you anything else about it. Time lines. And yes, I was going to ask you if you wanted to come with me. I can come back when you're finished here, if you like; or more simply I can bring you back by tonight, however long we take."
Luke adjusted the straps on his rucksack and smiled at a fellow student before he replied. "Mum told me how unreliable you are with keeping time, though."
The Doctor looked affronted. "That's unfair. Do you have any idea how tricky it is landing a ship exactly when you want to?"
"Well, no," Luke admitted. "We haven't exactly got on to time travel yet."
"Exactly!" The Doctor took his hands out of his pockets. "If you'd come with me all those years ago -"
"Six," put in Luke.
"Six years ago, then you'd know all about time travel. And a lot more."
Luke waited until they had crossed the road before replying. "I like being normal," he said, and found himself fixed by a pair of sceptical eyebrows. "Really! Or at least," he amended, because he felt he ought to under that gaze, "I like being as normal as I can be."
"Hmmph." The Doctor still looked sceptical, but, to Luke's relief, he dropped the topic and began on a long story about the building of the Bodleian Library that kept him going until they reached the physics lecture theatre. Luke had wondered how the Doctor would get into the lecture, but he waved a piece of paper in a leather holder at the department's porter and that seemed to be that.
In the lecture Luke turned his mind to what the lecturer was saying, but he glanced sideways once or twice to see what the Doctor's reaction was. His visitor was listening with a delighted smile on his face, and Luke found himself rather glad the Doctor hadn't begun trying to correct the unsuspecting lecturer on the equations being described.
The hour came to an end and there was a clatter and rustle of papers being put away and chairs being pushed back. Luke agreed to lend his notes to a friend, arranged a drink with another, and looked around for the Doctor. His heart sank. Hands waving excitedly, the Doctor was deep in conversation with the lecturer about something. Luke considered waiting for him, but decided against it and headed outside.
He was halfway down Cornmarket by the time the Doctor caught him up.
"Brilliant!" said the Doctor, practically bouncing.
"It was just a lecture," Luke said.
"But a good one!" the Doctor said. "Basic, maybe, but good. Maybe you're not so badly off after all."
Luke had to laugh. "Of course I'm not; I'm at Oxford!"
"However," said the Doctor, dodging a lady with a pram, "I still think you could do with a better education. We could do it in bits. One trip here, another there - could even fit it around whatever you're studying right now."
"Equations, and basic philosophy," said Luke. He checked to either side, and crossed the road, the Doctor keeping pace easily by his side. "I I just don't know," he said.
The Doctor said nothing until they were back into college. He waited under the main gate while Luke dashed into the porter's lodge, grabbed his post - a letter from Sarah Jane, flyers from student societies, a bank statement - and ducked out again. They crossed the quad.
"At least come and have a look at the TARDIS," the Doctor suggested, as they came into the cloisters. "She'd be pleased to have a visitor. I've been somewhat well, solitary, for a while."
He looked so pleading that Luke gave in - and he had to admit to himself that he did want to see inside the TARDIS. "All right. I'll come and have a look."
The Doctor's face split in a wide grin. "Brilliant!" he said.
They stopped by Luke's room first so he could dump his bag, before heading out to the meadow. The Doctor took a plain Yale key from his pocket and unlocked the TARDIS door, pushing it open.
"Go on," he said.
Luke looked at him, and stepped inside. He heard the door close behind him and half-noticed the Doctor throwing off his coat, but most of his attention was taken up with the incredible room he found himself in. High above his head arches soared, meeting where a tall column disappeared into the ceiling. The whole was suffused with a golden light, and in the background there was a faint hum. Luke put out his hand and touched one of the arches; it was vaguely warm to the touch.
"It's alive!" he said, to the Doctor.
"She's alive," the Doctor corrected him, tapping away at a keyboard on the circular central console. "You haven't mentioned the obvious."
"What, that it - she - is bigger on the inside?" Luke asked. "Well, it's obvious, isn't it?"
The Doctor nodded. "But you'd be astonished how many people like to state the obvious." He reached for a hammer and bashed the console energetically. "Some even run away." He straightened, and looked at Luke. "Seriously, what do you think? She looked quite different when Sarah Jane first saw her."
"She's beautiful," Luke said, honestly. "Amazing." He looked towards the door opposite, which seemed to lead down a corridor. "Is there more?"
"Oh, rooms and rooms," said the Doctor, cheerfully. "Sometimes she adds rooms, or corridors. Sometimes I can't find what I'm looking for for days because she's decided I don't need a third study, or she's shifted the wardrobe." He swung a screen around, squinted at it, and hit a button hard. "There. Better. Now."
Luke put his hands in his jeans pockets. "Now what?" he asked, cautiously.
"I'd like to take another look," the Doctor said, tapping his temple. "See what you've put in there in the past six years. All right?"
"Why?" Luke asked. "It's just a head, right?"
"Weeeelll," the Doctor said, "not quite. C'mon, you know that. Your head was put together, built almost - the Bane might have been evil meglomaniacs but they were good. Trouble is, no normal doctor's going to be able to check you out for well, let's call them mechanical faults. I can."
"And what if I say no?" Luke said, scuffing the toe of his trainer in the grated floor.
"Then it's no. I'll show you round the TARDIS, you can go and be a student."
Luke sighed. "Yes. Okay."
The Doctor grinned. "Brilliant! Same drill as before "
"Close a door if there's something I don't want you to see," Luke said. "Yeah."
He perched himself on the edge of the seat near the console and thought about the things he kept secret, in a corner of his mind. The fact he wished Maria was more than a best friend. How he felt about Sarah Jane. His fear that he would never be very normal. Luke imagined a neat, bare room, pushed those thoughts well into it, and closed the door.
"I'm ready," he told the Doctor.
The Doctor held up his hands, and placed them gently on Luke's temples. For a moment there was nothing, and then he felt the Doctor in his mind.
"Don't worry," the Doctor said aloud. "Just relax."
I am relaxed, Luke shot back.
He felt a delighted laugh. Oh, you're good, Luke Smith! But seriously, just let me look?
Luke nodded, and keeping the door of his secret thoughts firmly shut, allowed the Doctor to wander through the twists and turns of his brain. Now and then there was a spark of excitement, or a quick flash of surprise, but mostly the feeling was that of a keen, sharp knife slicing through with little sensation.
The Doctor reached Luke's door, tapped on it mentally, and withdrew.
Good door, he said.
The decision came instantly, and afterwards Luke was not sure why he had made it, but while the Doctor's pleased thoughts were echoing in his head he put pressure the other way, pushing at the solid barrier between his mind and the Doctor's. The barrier gave way, and for a moment Luke's mind was filled with whirling stars and roaring flame.
The Doctor took his hands away and stepped back. Luke found himself gasping for breath.
"That was not a good idea," said the Doctor, his voice clipped and cold.
"I'm sorry," Luke managed, between breaths. He looked up. "I'm really sorry." He rubbed his head.
"You shouldn't have done that," the Doctor added. "In fact, you should not have been able to do that."
Luke grimaced at the headache banging hard inside his skull. "I'm really sorry. I don't know what happened."
The Doctor, turned away, said, "you're fine, if you're worried. Perfectly human. Completely human."
Regarding him for a moment, Luke nodded. He took one last look around the TARDIS, gazing up at the lofty arches and down the long, secret corridors, and left.
Outside it was still light. Luke breathed in the fresh, grass-scented air, and ignoring the curious glances from passers-by as he climbed over the fence headed back to college, determinedly not looking back at the blue police box incongruously in the field.