"Come along, Victoria," the Doctor was saying as Jamie went ahead of them and gratefully climbed back into the TARDIS, "What are you looking at?" They were all tired from the long day of exploring the fledgling city of Cambridge and were ready for a rest.
Victoria gestured down the street their alleyway intersected with. "There's someone shouting over that way. It sounded like they might need help." Even as they paused there they could all hear it, the pounding of feet and raised voices, many angry, one man's voice protesting, frustrated and fearful.
The Doctor reached for her hand and gave it a light tug. "I'm sure it's no business of ours…" The TARDIS was neatly parked behind a heap of baled rags and well-hidden where it was but he didn't like the idea of a crowd suddenly coming upon it. Alleyways were notorious for attracting people on the run, and he really didn't want to get tangled up in anyone's legal system just then, and certainly not the one of the era they were in. He gave her hand another tug and this time she came along with him, though reluctantly.
They were nearly to the door when there was a pounding of feet behind them and as surely as if he had known they were there, a middle-aged paunchy man in the clothing of one of the college teachers came pelting straight at them.
He looked up from an object on his wrist that he'd been focused on and visibly startled to see them with the TARDIS, skidding in the mud and muck of the alley as his limbs shot out akimbo.
Victoria had started to go in but stopped, looking back at this unusual figure, effectively blocking the Doctor's way. He gave her a nudge, while offering the wheezing scholar a dismissive polite nod and smile. The smile gave way to astonishment as two things happened: the gasping man clasped his hands and cried, "A TARDIS! Heaven save me!"
And the Doctor recognized the wristband the man was wearing as being of Gallifreyan make. "Who are you?" he snapped.
The mystery man looked back at where the mob was rapidly closing in on the alley. "Let me in! Please, I beg you for the love of God, hide me!"
"Get in, quick!" said Victoria. The Doctor frowned at her invitation, but stepped aside and allowed the stranger to go in, quickly following. The man was already ahead of him, leaping to hit the door controls as Jamie gaped at him.
"I'm the Scholar," the man said as the doors shut out the sound and stench of the cold alley. He lowered himself to a bench, trying to catch his breath. "And that lot would've no doubt tried to do me significant harm if you hadn't helped me. My thanks."
"You're welcome," said Victoria politely. She and Jamie began pulling off their coats to hang them up. The Doctor was still standing by the closed doors, frowning at their strange visitor.
"The Scholar?" he said carefully. "Never heard of you. What are you doing here, and how did you get here in the first place?"
"I had my TARDIS, of course," the Scholar said, digging the heel of his hand into his side as he slowly caught his breath. "My own TARDIS, that is. Gone now."
"Gone? What do you mean, gone?"
"Gone! I came back to it one day and it was gone. Just… gone, poof!" He waved some fingers through the air.
"So you were looking for it? Is that how you found us?"
"Of course! Why would I be expecting another Time Lord to come by? The odds are…well, you know them. Extraordinary. This," he tapped his wrist, "led me here, but this TARDIS isn't mine."
"Obviously," the Doctor said.
"So you're the same kind of people?" Jamie asked curiously.
"I haven't decided if I'd claim him yet," the Doctor replied dryly.
"You have a TARDIS too?" Victoria was intrigued.
The Scholar didn't answer, but leaned back and flapped the layers of his scholarly robes a little, looking around. "An old Type-40? You've been traveling for some time," he said. "Or something. " He winked at the Doctor. "I won't ask too many questions, if that's what you're worried about, I think you and I may have something in common."
"And what would that be?" asked the Doctor coldly. He crossed his arms. "I'm still half-inclined to toss you back out." He glanced up at where the scanner was now showing a dozen men poking around the rag-bales and discussing the police box. They had ropes with them and bundles of wood.
The Scholar followed his gaze. "I see you've a healthy suspicion towards your countrymen. Not too welcoming of them, are you? I'm not the on assignment from that Council or anything if you're wondering. Quite the contrary."
The Doctor kept his arms crossed. "Did I ask?"
Victoria and Jamie looked at one another. 'What council?' she mouthed silently at him. Jamie shrugged.
"You wouldn't really throw me back out there, would you? A fellow traveler, a man in need, miserere?" He looked up at the scanner again. "You know what those men would do to me?"
"Burn you at the stake, I expect," the Doctor said. "For heresy, judging by their demeanor and equipment."
The Scholar shook his head. "Horrible, isn't it. Primitive and uncivilized."
"You aren't going to really send him back out, are you?" asked Victoria a little timidly. She looked sick at the very thought of it. "I mean, you wouldn't, would you?"
"I won't be any trouble," the Scholar assured. "Mayhap I might even be some company for you."
"I don't need company…" he looked over at Victoria and gave a little resigned sigh. "But I suppose you can stay. For now."
"Oh bless you!" Their guest broke into a relieved smile. "You don't know how long I've been trapped here in this plebian dunghill of a town. It will be a privilege to travel with you."
"I didn't say you were traveling with us."
"But you've got to help me! As I said, I've lost my TARDIS, at least help me find it again."
The Doctor raised a brow at him. "I'm still wondering what exactly you are doing here in Cambridge in the first place. The late 1600s on Earth were hardly the best era for holiday travel."
The Scholar threw the question back at him. "What were you doing here?"
"Seein' the foundin' of the college," Jamie put in.
"You're a bit late for that one. It's 1677, you know. Not even the 1500s. Chronometrical difficulties?"
The Doctor looked irritated and waved the topic away. "You haven't answered my question." He steepled his hands on his chin and considered the Scholar. "And from your comment, I assume you are referring to that portion of this particular hall of learning that is known as Trinity."
"Of course! What, you can't have missed it by that much! The original college was founded a good four hundred years before," he chuckled.
Jamie and Victoria looked at one another then both looked at the Doctor.
Again, he ignored their confusion and addressed himself to the Scholar. "This particular time does, however, have someone of note. Newton, wasn't it?"
"Oh yes," the Scholar said evasively. The Doctor tapped his steepled fingers on his chin again thoughtfully. His guest was now looking around at them with a strange little smirk on his face, like a boy who knows where the sweet biscuits are hidden but won't tell.
"Newton was certainly ahead of his time," the Doctor noted carefully. "That does make him of interest to people…like us."
"Oh yes!" the Scholar leaned forward eagerly. "He's brilliant, you know. Far ahead of the others around him. All he needed was a little encouragement, a little guidance to get him going."
"Ah!" the Doctor raised a brow. "And you were able to give him that?"
"Indeed, though…" The Scholar looked up at the scanner, watching as the men outside conferred together. "I ran into a little interference."
"With Isaac. He was just on the verge of discovering the electrical properties I'd been laying out for him, and that goatish lout Hooke had to cause a row. Hooke's the fellow who keeps trying to claim all of Isaac's work as being his own, you know, the scurrilous dog."
"Robert Hooke, yes…" the Doctor said. "Do continue. What's this about electrical properties?"
"Oh just child's play, really. But with a mind like Newton's you can see what a great change this would be! Can you imagine? Why, the men of Earth might have had microtechnology years and years ahead!"
The Doctor went very still, though his face retained its look of polite interest. "Years and years. Yes, I can see that. Centuries would be more like it."
"Oh that," the Scholar said dismissively. "Hooke came across some of my experiments. Nothing but a prying knave, that's what he is. Wouldn't surprise me at all if he picked the lock. It's difficult to cobble some of these principles together out of such rough equipment you know."
"And he took it for…"
"The usual. Sorcery or some such. Superstition." The Scholar shrugged, examining the end of his sash.
The Doctor tilted his head inquiringly. "Alchemy, perhaps?"
"Oh, yes, yes that was it. Alchemy. What difference does it make?"
"So…you're the one who interrupted Newton's studies and turned him into an Alchemist?"
"Nothing of the sort. I was turning him into a trained submicronic engineer if I'd just had the time. That pestilent blaggard Hooke… Well, you can see! It's too late to fix it now. I'll have to go back and try again."
"What do you mean?"
"What do you mean what do I mean? You know what I mean. Try again. I thought I was out of luck when my TARDIS went missing, but now that you're here I see it'll all come out in the wash."
"Now that I'm here?"
"Yes. You'll take me back."
"I think not."
"What? Surely you see how important this is? If I can just go back just a couple decades I can deal with Hooke, possibly even replace him in his position at the college. Or better yet, a little tweaking on the Anglican church might be in order. That would prevent it even being a heresy."
The Doctor looked at him with growing dismay. "Tweaking? The Anglican church?"
The Scholar snapped his fingers. "You're right! That would be too complicated with that Reformation whatnot going on at the same time. If we went back to, let's see…the third or fourth century we could ensure the instatement of the Arian theology instead of the foundational Trinitarian view…though that might change the name of the college…"
The Doctor glowered at him. "No, I don't think you'll be changing the name of the college anytime soon. You've done quite enough damage already."
The Scholar puffed out his cheeks. "Damage? You call advancing the future of man 'damage'?"
"The course of history would be better left without such advancements."
"But think! Already Newton's brought out Calculus! He'll polish off his planetary rotations and studies on light soon. All he needs is a little more work. All that drudgery man would be saved, years of mapping by hand, communicating with mere scraps of paper sent by ship…! Wonderful…"
The Doctor gripped the edge of the console. "It's terrible, that's what it is! How could you even consider it? Why, what if you accidentally changed core events…?
"It would all work out in the end. That's a risk to be taken, for the greater good. I'm just improving things, helping them along."
"I've heard quite enough! And I would thank you to be leaving my own ship posthaste if I weren't afraid you'd do even more damage..."
"Doctor," Victoria interrupted hesitantly. She pointed up at the scanner. "The men, they've gone."