Author's Note #5: Flashbacks-they're traditional on Highlander, but how to integrate them into a story? Should I cut frequently within a scene from the present to the past? Should I have an entire scene set only in the past, then return to the future? I've mingled the two scenes together. If you'd like to read them separately, let me know and I'll re-post this part as two separate parts.


New World

As the Doctor, Martha and even Adam began to answer his long unanswered questions, Joe found himself stifling a laugh at the strangeness of it all. He was being told the most cock-and-bull story he'd ever heard in his life, and it made so much sense it scared him.

They didn't realize how much it reminded him of that day in the army hospital in Vietnam.

"Joe," a voice said behind him, probably another in a line of nurses and doctors and far too close.

Joe froze. Cheeks burning, he shoved the gun hastily under the pillow. He didn't turn over onto his back to greet the newcomer. It hurt too much to move. Couldn't he get a few minutes without being bothered by someone? He didn't need anyone seeing just how much of an idiot he was. "Go to hell."

The hesitant way the stranger spoke next made Joe wonder if he'd seen the gun. "If you've got a minute, I wouldn't mind talking to you." The stranger paused. His accent was British.

Joe scowled into his pillow. Joe'd had his fill of strange Brits who wanted to chat. The strange man who said he knew him and told him to hold out for one day had been by and gone the night before.

The stranger continued, "I came to talk about Sergeant Cord."

"Right now, Joseph Dawson, you happen to be standing in the Console Room of my magnificently wonderful ship. She's called the TARDIS, Time-"

"-and Relative Dimensions in Space." Adam said.

The Doctor pouted like he was eight years old. Joe stared at him.

"Adam!" the Doctor whined.

Adam looked innocent, but didn't act sheepish enough to indicate he really was sorry. Martha hid her laughter behind her hand.

Joe closed his eyes and sighed. "I wasn't out of my head…" He turned and glared. "…and I don't need another damn shrink. Andy brought me here." He turned away.

"I have no doubt about that." The newcomer's reply was consoling and wry.

Puzzled, Joe turned his head and studied the other man. The stranger was dressed in fatigues, but everyone was. He had a hat pulled low over his head over a buzz cut, and his face was red from sun exposure. He met Joe's stare with an even one of his own.

He nodded in greeting. "Ian Bancroft." He took off his hat. "And I'm no shrink."

He grabbed a chair leaning against the wall next to the cot and sat down.

Joe wondered what this guy was going to try to sell him. "They keep telling me he was killed."

Bancroft nodded. "You're right, Joe. It was Cord that brought you in." He glanced behind him, at the bustle at the other end of the tent. He met Joe's eyes. "And he was…killed in that village."

"Anyway," the Doctor glared at them both and turned back to Joe. "She's my ship, and she can travel through time and space."

"What are you saying, exactly?" He pushed rational thought to a far distant portion of his mind and went for it. "You can time travel?"

A smile spread across Martha's lips. A grin that showed off an array of very, very white teeth formed on the Doctor's face. Adam smiled a little, in that half-smirking, half-shy way of his.

"Exactly!" the owner of the time ship exclaimed in a voice far too loud for the room's echoing space.

His earnest expression never changed, but Joe was disgusted. The guy must get his jollies out of screwing with the crazy amputees.

"Take it somewhere else. I don't need this crap." Joe turned away again. The solid presence of the gun dug into his cheek through the pillow. It was a nice distraction from the phantom pains, and he pressed his cheek more firmly into the pillow. He stared into space and waited for the telltale signs of footsteps as the asshole gave up and left.

They didn't come. A fisted hand appeared in his line of vision. Below the wrist, on the inside flesh of a tanned arm, was an unusual blue tattoo.

Dawson stared at them blankly for what may have been a minute, though it easily could have been two. A stray thought wandered through his head, wondering about the blue motif in the damnedest places. "So…um…" He shook himself. "How is that possible? It's kind of big for a time machine, isn't it?" All those TV series and movies didn't know the half of it, if a room-ship-needed to be this big in order to work.

A couple of guys in Joe's platoon had tats. They were daggers or roses with girl's names on banners. Bancroft was into abstract designs.

Joe spent a moment studying it, but he still didn't have a clue what it was or why he was being shown it. He shrugged. "What the hell is that?"

"It's a symbol." Bancroft paused again as he looked around. "It means I belong to an organization called the Watchers."

"It's bigger on the inside," said Martha.

"Uh-huh. So, what?" Joe asked. "You're from the future, when time travel is possible or something?"

Again, Joe asked the obvious question. "Watchin' who?"

Again, Bancroft looked around. "Those that can't die, like Sergeant Cord."

"Or something." The Doctor stood absolutely still. Speaking as seriously as Ian Bancroft had all those years ago, he said, "She's from another world. So am I."

Rationality ran back to the fore and started shouting denials in his overwhelmed thoughts. This would be where his entire world changed, again.