The Master: Ah, Doctor. I was afraid you'd be worried about me. So I thought I'd let you know that I'm alive and well.

Third Doctor: I'm extremely sorry to hear THAT!

------------------------------------

The Doctor: Tell you what. With a bit of jiggery pokery-

Rose: Is that a technical term, "jiggery pokery"?

The Doctor: Yeah, I came first in jiggery pokery, what about you?

Rose: Nah, I failed Hullabaloo.


The Doctor stared at his hands, then smirked, then laughed.

The voices sang.

Rose looked at him, concern etched on her face. She actually stepped back a few paces.

Uh-oh.

"Doctor," she said, "you're... you're scaring me." She took another step back.

"Rose, please, I'm okay. We just need-" he said, wiping an arm across his mouth and assuming (giggle) a grave expression...

Scream scream screams guilt pain burn life all dead all living twisting failing falling

What was happening?!

Faces swam across his vision, Romana, Ian, Leela, Peri, Ace, Jaime, Tegan, Susan, Grace, Sarah Jane... all burned, all screaming (alive they're all alive please some not even yet born, live die alive dead alive burn pain tearing tearing pain)

"Emergency protocol- hrrk - not designed to sta - stand up t- t- Rose, I'm sorry..." After a moment, he realized it was him who had just said that.

"Too much..."

Whump.

-------------------------------------

The Doctor looked over, having just recovered from the disappearance of the Master. "Sergeant", he said, "could you..." He stopped, and stared in shock, as his future incarnation went redder in the face, his eyes glazed, and he fell to the floor. The burst of psychic agony that hit him just before his older self hit the floor made him wince, but he kept his feet.

"No! Doctor!" Rose ran forward, falling to her knees beside him, lifting and cradling his head. She looked over at the Doctor, tears in her eyes. "You're the Doctor too, right? Help him!"

Blast it all, why was he always stuck with the difficult decisions for this lot? Mind you, he usually had the answers to hand. Primitives couldn't be expected to...

He shook himself. This wasn't what he'd encountered before, by a long shot. Sure, he'd been saddled with his younger, and older (and in some cases, wiser) incarnations in a couple cases, but here he was on unfamiliar ground. None had seemed so self-destructive, so angry.

Where had the Master gone, anyway?

He drew himself up. One thing at a time.

"Sergeant," he said, "could you please lend me a hand in getting this fellow to his TARDIS?"

Benton nodded crisply, put the girl aside gently and lifted one side of the fallen man while he took the other. Once they had the future Doctor supported between them, they started forward-

"Doctor!" Jo raced out of the canteen. "What's happening?" She spotted the fellow they were holding up. "What's happened to Colonel McCrimmon?"

He was about to speak-

Rose stormed forward with balled fists, still in shock, unfortunately. "That's the Doctor, you blond tart, and what are you-"

The Doctor was able to catch Rose' s shoulder just in time.

Jo looked bewildered at the scene, but not so much that she didn't shoot Rose an 'I'll deal with you later' look. "Doctor, what is-"

"Jo, we really don't have time for this," he said. "Let me give you the very short version. 'Colonel McCrimmon,' is, indeed, another me. Miss Tyler, here," he said, giving the girl a warning look, "is his current companion. What we are doing now," he said, indicating Benton and himself, "is getting him back to his TARDIS, before he suffers a complete mental breakdown. Which, I assure you, is something no Human could imagine the Time Lord version of."

He saw the look in Jo's eyes, and sighed. "I'm sorry, Jo. I'd give a better expl - "

Rose pushed him. "Come on, we've got to help him!"

He turned, and gave her a cold look. "Miss Tyler," he said, "that was uncalled for. If you've been traveling with him," a nod of the head, "for any length of time, you should know that we don't take well to being pushed." He looked back to Jo. "You should come along - never know if we'll need an extra set of hands."

"Now," he said, shifting his shoulder to better balance the weight, "let's get this fellow to my laboratory."

--------------------------------------------------------------------------

The Doctor and Benton set the unconscious Time Lord in a chair, then the Doctor, getting his TARDIS key out of his pocket, walked over to the front door.

"Chameleon circuit seems to be stuck on the same setting. Hm." He stuck the key in the lock, only to find that - it didn't fit?!

"Either my own TARDIS doesn't recognize me anymore, or things have changed by his time far more than I'm comfortable with."

Benton looked concerned. "Doctor?"

"It's not important. What is, is getting him inside." He rummaged through the other's jacket pockets until he produced a common-looking Earth key. He frowned at the shape, but nodded, then went over and opened the door, quickly turning then to help the Sergeant carry his later incarnation into the Tardis, Rose following along after.

He dragged/ carried the other Doctor in, looking around for a seat of some kind, and almost dropped his older self with surprise. "Gracious," he said, "it looks like it's been through a war - "

"Yeah," said Rose, before she could stop herself.

He glanced over at her, and gave her a reassuring smile. "Don't be concerned at giving away too much with that little statement," he said. "Even I know I'll be mixed up in quite a few more conflicts than whichever one is on your mind."

Jo was staring around , round-eyed. Not so much at the dimensions, she was used to that... but... "Doctor, how could this be your TARDIS? It looks so much different!"

"It seems to be a little unsafe, with all this grating and hanging wires," said Benton. "That thing in the middle, with all the green and strange bits... is that really the TARDIS console?"

"Most of this different look is just a desktop theme," said the Doctor absently, half-noting Jo's and Benton's confused looks, and Rose's surprised one. He propped the other doctor up as best he could on the grating, then approached the console, pulling out his sonic screwdriver. "What really concerns me is the amount of raw damage and haphazard repair that's been done in here; it's like he's tried to rebuild the old girl from scratch with alien technology, more than once. Mind you," he said, studying the console, "I imagine that some of it is quite clever improvising, mind - this is me we're talking about. Now, where is that... Ah, here we go..." He lifted a small hatch, and frowned. "Oh, dear."

"What's wrong?" said Rose.

"What is it, Doctor?" said Jo, in a near-chorus. They glared at each other a moment. The Doctor seemed oblivious.

"The primary psychic circuits are burned out. That must be why he mentioned the Emergency Protocol... let's see..." He went over to another part of the console flipped a couple of switches, then stepped back scratching his head. "It should have been there; it's like everything's been switched around." He glared up at the center column. "And I really wish you would be more helpful. I know it's been a while since you've had me here like this, but we've done this kind of thing before!"

Benton's brow furrowed. Jo said, "Doctor- are you talking to the TARDIS again?"

"Yeah, he does that," said Rose. "Guess it's not just old age."

The Doctor chose to ignore this, instead focusing on the controls again. "Let's see," he said, moving a slide up and turning a knob. A squeal came from a nacelle on the wall, and the Doctor turned it back. He walked over to the round coral protuberance, and with a flick of the sonic screwdriver, had it open.

"Primary communications with Gallifrey... off line, with extensive damage!" he said in alarm, after looking over the readouts on a small recessed screen there.

"Um, yeah, said Rose, brushing her hair back nervously. "He, uh, kinda did that on purpose."

"Did he say why... no, I don't suppose he would." He paused a moment. "Unless it was to prevent some kind of connection, someone from finding out he was here?" He looked over at Rose.

"Yep. That's exactly what it was," came the other Doctor's voice.

They turned to see the leather-jacketed man struggling into a standing position against a railing, panting heavily. Rose ran over to his side. "Doctor, you're all right!"

He grinned at her, but they could see the strain in his eyes. "Not quite, Rose," he said. "The TARDIS is doin' what she can to help, but there's still a million dead people screamin' in my head. We need that circuit fixed." He pointed over toward the console. "The Emergency Protocol's a few inches down and phsd% from where it used to be."

The Doctor nodded, then, tracing a finger down the console, punched a few keys and moved a circular slide. A small hatch opened and a panel raised to view.

"What was that, Doctor? I couldn't-"

He was in too much pain to roll his eyes, but he did manage a shrug. "Not all concepts can be translated into English, Rose, not even by the TARDIS translation circuits. Don't worry about it; your race has about another six hundred thousand years of evolution before it starts to get a grasp of that concept, anyway."

Before she could reply, he got himself over to the console, stood next to the Doctor, and peered down to the circuitry.

The Doctor finished going over the circuitry with the sonic screwdriver, and fished a small device out of his pocket. He jimmied it open, and began looking through the inner workings. "I think I can find a couple of circuits and wires in here to replace the overloaded-"

The older Doctor, who had been doing his own examination, shook his head. "It didn't just overload. It was sabotage."

The Doctor looked up sharply, stepped in closer. "Do you think," he said, stealing a glance at Rose, "that-"

"No!" said the other, rather louder than he expected. "No," he said more quietly. "Absolutely not."

"Then who-"

"I'm thinking maybe someone working for... an enemy did this when it was first installed; haven't had to use it before now." He sat down, his back to the console. "Go ahead and patch it up, though."

The Doctor nodded, and set to work. After a few minutes, he stepped back to study his work. "Here goes," he said, and re-activated it.

"Aigh!" The other Doctor suddenly cluched at his head. Before Rose could react again, though, he shot to his feet, grinning.

"Well, that's a relief!" he said. He started to look over the console again. "Right. Now, we need to track down-"

"Just a second, old chap," said the Doctor. "You've just had a nasty experience, and there's still more-"

"It can wait," said his older self, turning back to the console.

"No, I don't think it can," said the Doctor. "There's some information in my TARDIS I think might be relevant, but I can't get it over here with your comm-link severed. I also may have a replacement psychic circuit. Possibly one even better than what was there before."

"Oh, really," said the other in a sarcastic tone. "Grabbed on the fly on your way off of Gallifrey to be dumped here? Or did the Time Lords try to bribe - "

Jo suddenly stepped forward, and slapped him. He took a step back, hand going to his face in surprise.

"That's enough! From what I can see, he just saved your life, and you just stand there and- and- talk to him like this? How dare you!"

"Oi!" snapped Rose. "You don't know what-"

"No, and you don't either, you little brat!" Jo shot back, and turned back toward the older Doctor "If this is the way you and your 'companion' act to people who help you..." She looked back toward the Doctor himself, her expression softening a bit, "then I'm sorry to see what time and whatever else will turn you into."

She then turned, and stumbled out of the TARDIS. Sergeant Benton shot a questioning look at him in turn, and at his nod, followed her.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The Doctor watched them leave, Jo's words still stinging in his ears, and her slap on his cheek. He slumped against the console, just knowing his younger self was giving him some kind of reproving look.

"Yeah, and don't come back in here, you little-"

He looked back up. "Rose!"

"Huh?"

"Stop it. She's right." He straightened up and turned toward his younger self. "I've always felt a bit of a prat, having to apologize to myself," he said, "but there you go. You're right, of course; going off on the spur of the moment has gotten me in some bad spots." He then grinned. "Keep in mind, it's been handed down from you in any case. Hard habit to break, eh?"

The velvet-clad Doctor chuckled. "Yes, I suppose it is; we can't always plan for everything. It is good to be as prepared as possible, though." He started toward the door, The Doctor falling in behind him.

Rose just stood there, seeming unable to take in this turn of events. Typical.

"Rose," he said, "you coming?"

"Nooo," she said, drawing the word out in her uncertainty, "I think I'd better stay in here for a while."

"Suit yourself. Jo's a forgiving sort, though; you decide to join us later, should be all right." He turned and left the TARDIS on the heels of his younger self, closing the door behind him.