Doctor Who is owned by the BBC.
Story inspired by the IDW "Doctor Who Classics" series.
The Doctor stepped out of the TARDIS into one corner of the massive fairgrounds of Bblabdtovosliv, on Seven Teleadar. He took a deep breath of the myriad competing flavors of cooking and perfumes in the air, and sighed, his shoulders settling back comfortably. A tear leaked from the corner of his eye... a happy tear.
"Oh, Rassilon," he breathed, "it hasn't changed a bit since my fourth incarnation. Oh glorious day! Ha ha ha!" He shut the door behind him, and dashed off to find his favorite arcade parlour.
It was still there! He gave a fist pump of triumph, then paused to apologize to a group of visiting Throg. Still worth it, though. He dashed in. Did it... did it...
"Brilliant!" he shouted. Several children of various species looked up from the machine he had spotted, in severe annoyance. "Sorry, dudes," he said. They rolled their eyes (as far as translations go, the TARDIS was tops in relaying exasperated indifference) and returned to their game.
He stuck his hands in his pants pockets, and canted forward with a cocky sneer. This should be fun.
He rifled through his pockets, then brought out a handful of coins. He sorted through them until he pulled out an old arcade token. He put it on the console, in line with the others waiting their turn for the game.
Waiting, waiting... he paced back and forth behind the small crowd gathered in front of the machine. He took an occasional glance at the screen with each pass.
Waiting was definitely not something that this incarnation was very good at, he decided finally. He took the token back off of the console, pocketing it as he gave the machine one last longing look. He'd come back later, maybe. When there were less people around.
He strolled over to a nearby ice-cream kiosk, and soon was walking off, happily licking away at a strawberry-chocolate-snozzberry-apalcho-with-sprinkles-cone. He spotted a large crowd watching an enormous screen set up near a cluster of blue and orange tents, and wandered over to watch.
"The stunt pilot races! Brilliant!" he said. He watched as the various speeders and rockets on screen executed perfect maneuvers and stunts in space, with the occasional crash or flareout. These were accompanied by "Oooh"s or winces from various members of the crowd.
After a few minutes, he turned to go- and felt a heavy hand on his shoulder.
He was roughly turned around to face a large, heavyset tiger-man, dressed in a too-tight flight suit. His eyes were slightly rheumy, and his fur streaked with grey.
"Sorry, do I know you?"
The man took a closer look, then released his shoulder. He sighed heavily. "I-I'm sorry," he said. "I thought you were... the coat... ah, forget it." He started to turn away.
"When did you meet the Doctor, then?" said the Doctor, catching up. The tiger-man stopped in his tracks and turned to him. There was an unpleasant snarl on his face. "You're another one of those, are you? Coming to taunt me about it? Don't you ever get tired of it, why don't you lot just leave me alone!" This last was shouted, and he gave the Doctor a shove. "You had your shot at ruining my life, alright?! You've sold your papers!"
"Whoa, whoa, easy," said the Doctor. "I'm only asking because, well... I haven't seen him in some time myself."
"You're a friend of the Doctor?"
"One of his ten best."
"Right." The man rolled his eyes. "Another one with an imaginary friend. Describe him."
The Doctor frowned in thought. "Curly brown hair, impossibly long scarf, toothy grin." He paused for a moment, then grinned "And just a touch of the crazy-eyed look."
The man's shoulders slumped a little. "Never told anyone about the grin. Or the eyes." He sighed. "You wanted to know when I met the Doctor?"
"If you could." He took another look at the tiger-man's face. So tired, beaten-down... "How about we stop off at one of the coffee shops at the food court," he said. "I'm buying." The other fellow nodded.
As they walked, the Doctor looked down at his neglected cone. He tossed it in the next rubbish bin they passed.
He had lost his taste for it, anyway.
After half a cup of blood coffee, the tiger-man seemed to revive a bit. The Doctor watched him from over the rim of his cup as he took another sip of his tea.
"Name's Naragh. I was a stunt pilot. We were here at this very competition." He smiled in rememberance."Champion team." He went silent, staring into his cup.
The Doctor waited.
"He... well, he said something about his ship being better than ours, and we decided to show him how wrong he was." He chuckled. "Sent him up for a spin with one of our guys. Trouble was," he said, pausing to take another sip of coffee, "they got shot down by pirates."
A gleam came into his eye.
"Me and the rest of the boys scrambled, broke the planetary cordon and drove 'em off before any help could have arrived. Saved the whole planet." He smiled in proud memory. "The Doctor said that he'd been so impressed by the flying, that even though his ship could travel in time, it just couldn't compare. Then he left." His face sagged. "And the trouble started."
"What was that?"
"Little guy who'd been tagging along with the Doctor - some off-planet writer, guess he met him here- talked to the press about how he and the Doctor had helped out, and that the Doc was a Time Lord from Gallifrey."
Naragh looked at him. "Gallifrey's a myth, a kid's story. The press laughed at him." He shook his head. "Didn't believe it was true myself, of course, but I wasn't about to let them take the piss out of someone who'd flown with us! I backed him up."
He fell silent again, stirring at his cup. He blinked a few times, his tail lashing slightly.
"Our sponsors demanded I issue a retraction. I refused. I'd said a lot weirder and worse over the time I'd been flying for them, and on most of it, they hadn't batted an eye. This time, though," he said, "they did. I can't imagine why."
"What did they do?"
"They activated a clause in my contract that said I had to have a mandatory med evaluation to determine my fitness to fly. They sent me to some brain-guy. I thought it was a joke," he said, trembling.
The Doctor looked up, alarmed. Naragh's face conveyed barely-suppressed rage.
"Five years. Top team in the league. And what do they do? What do they do?!" His fist slammed on the table; his coffee tumbled, unheeded, to the ground. "They pump me full of meds and disband the team! They made me a laughing-stock in the press. And look at this!" He lifted his hands to view. They were trembling violently. "They-they did an operation. Small cut, and a laser." He paused, eyes closed. "They said if I wasn't going to be flying for them, I'd be flying for nobody."
"They took what I love most," he said quietly. "They took the sky from me."
They sat in silence for a while."
"Did you ever read any of the stories about Lords of Time when you were a kid, then?" The Doctor suddenly said.
"Yeah, a few. The press," he said with venom, "drummed the rest into my head with their stories."
"Did any of them talk about them changing their appearance?"
The man eyed him suspiciously. "Not that I remember... why do you ask."
The Doctor took a deep breath. "I'm a Time Lord."
He narrowed his eyes and rode roughshod over the man's interruption. "I'm the last of the Time Lords. The stories of Gallifrey, the War in Heaven - they're all true. There was a war, and we lost." He stopped to take a breath.
The man was just staring at him, stunned.
"One of the consequences of losing a war of that magnitude," said the Doctor quietly, "is that you're removed from Time itself. All that are left are legends. And me."
"Wha... you're crazier than I..."
The Doctor reached into his pocket and began drawing out a piece of cloth. He kept pulling, and it kept coming. Naragh's eyes bugged out in recogniton.
"That scarf...! Doctor?!"
He smiled and did a little wave. "Hello!"
The man sat back. "I really don't know how to react, here," he said finally. "I know that you haven't been around, and if what you say is true, you're probably in worse shape than I am. But," he said, leaning forward, "on the other hand, you did end my career, even if indirectly."
The Doctor stood up. "I can understand that." His expression darkened. "People like the ones who've done this..." He scowled. "You leave this to me." He turned, and started back toward his TARDIS.
Two steps later, his legs were bound! He was teetering...
The Doctor levered himself up, spitting dirt. "Wha- pfbltt?!" He got himself back to his feet, brushing himself off. It was then that he noticed that dratted scarf had gotten tangled around his legs! He started to stuff it back into his pocket.
He looked up from his struggles, to see the Naragh just staring at him. Suddenly, he burst into laughter!
The Doctor gave him a hurt look. "Come on, it's not that funny!" This did nothing to stop the other's laughter. In fact, it grew louder and heartier.
"Oh Gods," said Naragh, gasping. "Oh - ha ha ha ha - oh Gods!" He kept laughing, and the Doctor sat back down and took a sip of tea, a peeved look on his face. Finally, his laughter died down, and he sat back, a huge grin on his face. "Thanks for that, Doctor, I feel a lot better." He chuckled. "That was great. Mister Serious 'I'll go take down the intergalactic stunt sponsor coalition in my little blue box', then bam! right on your face!" He laughed a bit more, then sighed. "Priceless!"
The Doctor stirred his tea, then took another sip. "The offer still stands."
Naragh shook his head. "That part's taken care of. When it got out what that one company had done in convincing the others to... do what they did, there was an uproar." He smiled at the memory. "You just don't cross the real enthusiasts of the sport. Great bunch... well most of them."
"So what happened?"
"A massive boycott! You won't believe how fast the other companies changed their tune!"
"What happened to that one company?"
"Their sales went to zero, and they went out of business in months."
The Doctor grinned. "Well, that seems to fix that," he said, "but what are you doing back here?"
Naragh cocked an eyebrow, and grinned himself. "Never said the fans abandoned me," he said. "I may not be able to fly anymore, but they have yet to break some of my records! I'm the guest of honor at a local convention," he said. "You're welcome to attend."
"Wait a minute, there was something!" He started rummaging through the various pockets on his flight suit. "Ah, here it is!" He triumphantly drew forth...
"One of my old screwdrivers!" exclaimed the Doctor. "But how did you get your hands on that?" He snatched the proffered item and turned it over in his hands. "Yes, this is definitely my screwdriver! Ha!"
Naragh smiled at this display. "It was in the ship you were riding in before, must have fallen out of your pocket." He sighed. "I kept hold of it, in case I ever saw you again."
The Doctor looked over at him, then extended the screwdriver back to him. He waved him off. "No, Doctor, it's yours."
When he began to protest, Naragh just smiled again. "Let me have this bit of closure. I finally saw you again, even if you look so much different..." He stood up, grasped the Doctor's hand and released it. "I'll see you at the convention, then?"
The Doctor thought a moment, then smiled. "Ah, why not? See you there!" He stood up himself. He watched the aged man stalk off toward a large building, and shook his head.
"If only the others affected by the War all ended up as well as he did," he muttered, and sauntered back off toward the arcade, his cocky grin back in place. He still had a few lessons to teach the locals...