It seemed to take forever to get back to Ashley's street. The birds were singing noisily – the way they always did at first light. They had talked only briefly. The Doctor was pensive and Ashley was tired and aching. All she wanted was a handful of aspirin and a huge cup of coffee. Then she would be ready for anything.
Finally they came to Ashley's garden and they walked morosely down the path. 'You want a coffee?' Ashley asked, taking her keys out of her pocket. 'Although I'm not sure how much is left. We kind of demolished it last time we were here. But it's getting on now. I suppose in a couple of hours the corner shop will be open and I could go and get some…' She trailed off as she glanced around. 'Doctor?'
He was gone.
Ashley felt her heart leap into her throat. She rushed back down the garden path and looked both ways down the street.
'Doctor!' she yelled.
Where had he gone? Was he leaving? Just like that? How could he leave just like that? After everything… After what had just happened! He didn't even say goodbye!
Ashley quickly went from stricken to annoyed. She frowned, clenching her teeth. Then she remembered where he had left the Tardis and immediately knew she had an advantage. To get to it, he would have to circle the street and walk up the back alley, whereas she would only have to go through her house.
She ran back to the door, fumbling to get it open. She managed eventually, and slammed it behind her. She ignored Manny yelling for her to keep it down and raced through the kitchen and out the back door. She felt a rush when she saw the Tardis standing beyond her back gate. She fumbled with the catch on the gate, cursing at her stupid clumsy fingers and finally barrelled out into the back alley. Looking up and down it, she saw it was deserted.
'Sloppy, Doctor…' she mumbled, moving towards the Tardis. 'Very sloppy.'
She tried the door, but it wouldn't budge. She contemplated the fact that he could be already inside, but she doubted that. He would have been gone already if he had. With a sigh, she turned and leaned against the doors. As soon as she did, the Doctor turned into the alley, fiddling with the key in his hand. Ashley watched him get closer, and then crossed her arms over her chest.
'Ah-hem.' She broadcasted loudly.
The Doctor stopped in his tracks and looked up, surprised. 'I uh… How did you…'
Ashley marched towards him frowning, and then terrier-slapped him with both hands for a moment. 'You knob!' she yelled at him. 'You were just going to leave? Without saying bye?'
The Doctor shielded himself by raising his arm and ducking his head. 'It would have been easier if I'd just gone!' he insisted. 'Easier for both of us.' She readjusted his coat when she stopped hitting him. 'You knew I was leaving.'
Ashley sulked. 'Yeah, well. I didn't appreciate you leaving without saying goodbye.'
The Doctor placed his hands on her shoulders. 'I've left a lot of people in my life,' he told her. 'And it doesn't get any easier. The only part of it that can be made a little easier is by me just leaving. No teary goodbyes. It's easier for me.'
Ashley swallowed and looked down at the tarmac. 'So what are you going to do now? Just fly around on your own?'
The Doctor scrunched his nose briefly. 'Ah I don't know. Probably find some mess to get myself stuck into.' He offered a smile, but it faded quickly.
'What about me?' Ashley asked quietly. 'The things I can do. You were just going to leave me without telling me?'
The Doctor looked at her and said nothing.
'Yeah. Right.' Ashley nodded. 'I get it.' She backed away out of his hands and shrugged her shoulders. 'Well if you want to go on forever on your own, that's up to you. You'll always be lonely if you don't make the effort, Doctor.' She nodded to him as she headed back to her gate. 'It was nice knowing you.'
The Doctor watched after her sadly. She didn't look back over her shoulder as she disappeared through the back door, closing it noisily behind her. The Doctor cast his eyes down to the tarmac, took in a deep breath, and moved towards the Tardis.
Halfway through unlocking the door, however, he heard Ashley's back door reopening and her angry voice filling the air.
'You were just going to leave?' she demanded, storming towards him. 'What kind of guy are you? You could have at least came back and knocked on my door and apologised and then explained again that it was all for the best and that you at least enjoyed my company!' She slapped him on the shoulder again. 'Is that too much to ask?'
The Doctor stared at her, completely bewildered. 'What?'
Ashley frowned and crossed her arms over her chest. 'Are you going to ask me then?'
The Doctor blinked at her. 'What?'
She shoved him, annoyed. 'Don't play stupid. I know you want to ask me. So ask.'
The Doctor blinked again and cleared his throat. 'Uh… okay. Um…' He gestured to the Tardis. 'Do you want to come with me?'
Ashley lifted her head a little and said, 'No.'
Ashley looked at him for a moment, and then a smile crept on her face. 'God you're so gullible!' she laughed. 'You should have seen your face!'
'Um… so…' The Doctor frowned in complete puzzlement. He scratched his head. 'Does that mean you're…'
'Coming? Hell yeah!' She patted the Tardis. 'Open her up then.'
Mostly out of confusion, the Doctor opened the door and allowed her to go inside. He glanced around once, and then followed her in. When he looked around for her, she was already by the controls and grinning at him. Seeing her there looking so happy… he just had to smile back.
'So where are we going?' she beamed as he joined her side.
'We can go anywhere you like.' The Doctor replied. 'Any year you particularly fancy?'
Ashley shrugged. 'Not really.' Her eyes lit up. 'Can I fly it?'
The Doctor shook his head immediately. 'Oh no. No, no.'
'Because… Because it's very complicated. You have to know exactly what you're doing at all times.'
'Pfft,' Ashley waved her hand at him. 'Whatever. All you do is bash things.'
'I'll have you know that it took years of practice to learn which parts to… um… bash.'
Ashley shrugged. 'Okay then. Well I guess nothing would happen if I did this…'
Before the Doctor could stop her, she reached out and pulled a lever in front of her. The Doctor's hands shot to his head.
'No!' he cried. 'What are you doing?'
Ashley giggled as the Tardis started up. 'Don't plan.' She told him. 'Life's no fun if you plan.'
Before the Doctor could do anything, the Tardis was already soaring through time and space and onto another destination.
And that's episode three! I hope you enjoyed it. I think it might have ended a little too quickly but meh... I'm not going back to it now. Thanks everyone for reading again, and especially you lot who have commented on all of my stories! You all rock as hard as boulders :D
Episode Four is coming soon... not as quickly as the previous ones have though because I have to do a little bit of research on Gallifray... (little teaser for you all :p)