"Never Gonna Dance Again"
STANDARD DISCLAIMER: The Doctor Who characters
belong to the BBC. The song "Careless Whisper" belongs to Wham!. I'm not
making any money from this.
There is one constant that
binds all male creatures of the universe together, Perpugilliam Brown
decided. And that is a love for things that go fast. Peri came to
this conclusion standing in line at the desk of the British Airways gate
agent, watching the Doctor stare out the window at the planes landing on
the distant runways. His face had a distant, faraway expression. Probably
wishing he could fly one, Peri thought, smiling to herself. Her smile
vanished as she considered the mercurial, impetuous, capricious nature
of the Doctor in his sixth incarnation; if she didn't keep an eye on him,
he was liable to go off in search of a plane sitting empty at a gate and
try his hand at piloting. The thought made her groan out loud.
"Next," the gate agent called, and Peri moved forward.
"Can you tell me if Doctor Robert Johnson was on this flight?" Peri asked, indicating the last few passengers who were straggling out of the jetway. "We've been waiting here since the plane landed, so I don't think we missed him."
"Hang on, let me check," the gate agent replied.
The Doctor was only half-listening
to the exchange between his latest companion and the gate agent. His mind
was on other things. Ah, it's Concorde, he thought as he
watched a plane come down from the sky. The supersonic plane with its distinctive
shape brought up a flood of memories in the Doctor's mind, memories that
he tried his best to push away. He knew there was no use dwelling on things.
There was nothing to be accomplished by thinking back to a romantic, champagne-soaked
dinner in Paris or the dancing afterward… or what had happened after that,
back in the TARDIS. Sighing, the Doctor tore his gaze away from the runways
and inspected the people milling around at the gate.
An angry man with an American accent was berating someone on his cell phone. From what he heard of the conversation, the Doctor gathered that British Airways had generously sent his luggage on a vacation without him. An older woman sat reading a magazine, a small blonde girl playing with Barbie dolls on the floor at her feet. A frazzled-looking young mother tried to calm a crying infant while her two older children argued bitterly over a toy. A tall blonde woman emerged from the jetway and nearly flew into the arms of a dark-haired man who was holding a bouquet of red roses. There was no sign of Dr. Johnson, the scientist whom Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart had sent them to intercept.
"He never got on the plane in New York," Peri said, suddenly appearing at his side.
"What?" the Doctor asked, incredulous. "You'd think the Brigadier's intelligence would be better than that!"
"He's rescheduled his flight for the day after tomorrow," she continued. "They're working on pulling up his new itinerary." The Doctor shook his head, exasperated.
"I suppose we'll just have to go there and find him," he mused. "Shouldn't be that difficult, even if the TARDIS doesn't like short hops all that much."
"Ms. Brown?" the gate agent called. "I have Doctor Johnson's flight information now." Peri glanced at the Doctor and shrugged. "I might as well get it, in case the TARDIS doesn't feel like taking a trip to New York."
"Yes, all right," he agreed. As she returned to the gate agent's desk, he moved to stand near the TARDIS, which he'd materialized in an alcove near the gate, right next to a kiosk that sold CDs to bored travelers. There were several customers milling around, listening to selections and making purchases.
"I love this song!" a woman exclaimed. She turned up the volume on the kiosk's stereo system.
To the heart and mind,
Ignorance is kind.
There's no comfort in the truth,
Pain is all you'll find.
"Well, here it is," Peri said,
holding up a computer printout. Distracted by the music, the Doctor hadn't
noticed her approach.
"Wonderful," the Doctor said. "Now we can be on our way." He turned to unlock the TARDIS.
"Wait, here come more people off the plane," Peri said.
"It doesn't matter, Johnson wasn't on that flight anyway," the Doctor reminded her. But something made him turn.
The flight crew was walking out of the jetway, pulling small overnight suitcases behind them. First came the pilot and copilot, and behind them the air hostesses. And among the air hostesses was a tall, thin woman, her brown hair now worn in a shoulder-length bob. She glanced briefly in their direction, laughing at something the other air hostess said to her, and then she did a double take, staring at the strange, pudgy blond man with the curly hair and the crazy patchwork coat who was standing in front of a police box. They didn't even have police boxes in England any longer, let alone in the middle of Heathrow Airport.
"Doctor," she mouthed silently.
"Mummy!" the small blonde girl suddenly cried, putting her dolls aside and running up to Tegan Jovanka, her little arms held out for a hug. But Tegan's eyes were on the Doctor; brown eyes locked with blue. Her face had gone very pale.
Tonight the music seems so loud,
I wish that we could lose this crowd.
Maybe it's better this way,
We'd hurt each other with the things we want to say.
We could have been so good together,
We could have lived this dance forever.
But now who's gonna dance with me?
"Remind me… what's the date today,
Peri?" the Doctor asked quietly. Frowning, Peri told him. He recalled the
date Tegan had left, estimated the age of the blonde child, did the math,
and reeled back as if slapped.
"She already knew," he whispered. "And she left anyway."
"What's that, Doctor?" Peri asked. Without another word, he turned and walked into the TARDIS. "Doctor?" Peri called uncertainly as she followed.
And I'm never gonna dance again,
Guilty feet have got no rhythm.
Though it's easy to pretend,
I know you're not a fool.
The door to the TARDIS closed,
and Tegan's immobility was broken.
"Doctor!" she cried, dropping the handle of her suitcase and racing across the gate. "Please, let me explain!" She pounded on the TARDIS door but to no avail. Though it appeared to be made of rather flimsy wood, in reality it was as unyielding as steel.
Should've known better than to cheat a friend,
And waste the chance that I'd been given.
So I'm never gonna dance again
The way I danced with you.
With a wheezing, groaning sound,
the police box vanished. Tegan covered her face with her hands and sobbed.
The blonde child hurried over to her mother, her little face creased with
worry. The middle-aged woman who had been waiting at the gate with her
followed close behind.
"Mummy?" the child asked. Tegan continued to cry. The little girl turned to the older woman. "Grandma, why does Mummy cry? Who was that man?" The woman sighed.
"Come on, love," she said, putting an arm around Tegan's shoulders. Tegan's sobs gradually tapered off, and she wiped her eyes. "Let's get you home."
"Home," Tegan said bitterly, glancing back at the empty space the TARDIS had occupied only seconds ago. After a moment, she allowed herself to be led from the gate by her mother and her child.
Now that you're gone,
Was what I did so wrong, so wrong
That you had to leave me alone?
Minutes after they left, there
was a wheezing groaning sound, and a police box gradually appeared out
of thin air. The door opened, and the blond, curly-haired man in the patchwork
coat stuck his head out.
"Tegan?" he called.