Description: The Doctor's timelines collide as past and present meet.
Doctors: First and Tenth
Companions: Ian Chesterton, Barbara Wright, Martha Jones, Captain Jack Harkness
First Doctor POV: After Susan leaves, but before meeting Vicki (between 'The Dalek Invasion of Earth' and 'The Rescue').
Tenth Doctor POV: After the Master is defeated and time reverses, but before Jack and Martha leave (during 'The Last of the Time Lords').
Centricity: I had started out trying to make it focus more on Ian, but it didn't really end up that way. What can I say? The Doctor is a scene-hogger.
So Much for Keeping the Correct Time...
Barbara glanced at the Doctor busying himself at the controls. She walked over to Ian and whispered, "He's been so forlorn since Susan left."
"Yes," said Ian. "Well they were quite close. Weren't they?"
"We really should do something to cheer him up."
"What do you suggest, Barbara?"
"I don't know. Just talk to him."
"So, Doctor..." started Ian, walking over to where the Doctor was standing.
"Hmm?" said the Doctor, suddenly staring up. "What is it, Chatterton?"
"That's Chesterton," frowned Ian, but continued anyway. "I was just wondering... so how long have you been travelling around in this thing?"
"Oh, about 50 years or so I'd say."
"50 years!? But how's that possible?"
"The lifespan of my species is much greater than yours," explained the Doctor. "Susan, for instance, is currently 87 years old."
"But Susan said she was 15 when she enrolled in school?" said Ian.
"Well, she wouldn't have blended in very well if she had given her true age, now would she?"
"No, I suppose not," decided Ian in a practical manner. "So, out with it. How old are you supposed to be?"
"I'm sure it's somewhere between 400 to 500 years."
"You mean you don't know?" asked Barbara
"One does tend to lose track of one's age sometimes, doesn't one?" mused the Doctor.
"Well, I suppose if I was as old as you, my memory might be a little fuzzy on the matter, too," said Ian.
"I'm actually not quite so old for someone of my kind."
"How long is the average lifespan?" asked Ian.
"One could live for even thousands of years. But that all depends on how often they regenerate."
"Regenerate? What's that?" asked Barbara.
"My race has discovered long ago a secret to postponing dents... death. We call it 'Regeneration,' where, when one is close to death, his cells reconfigure themselves into a completely new body."
"What? You become a completely new person?" asked Ian, unwilling to believe.
"In a way... but deep down, one does remain the same."
"But then if everyone is changing about, how will you be able to tell each other apart on the street?"
"We have the ability to sense others of our race. We can see the inner as well as the outer. But yes, I'm sure it would be quite confusing to a human; you're all so caught up in outer qualities."
"Does it hurt?" asked Barbara.
"Regenerating? There can be consequences sometimes, yes; it does scramble the brain a little. But I've never regenerated yet, so I can't exactly tell you first hand."
"I just can't believe you," said Ian. "It's impossible to change your appearance so drastically."
"Oh," said the Doctor, slightly annoyed. "So what of a caterpillar that changes into a butterfly? Are they two separate creatures? Are you to tell me it's impossible for them to be the same entity, since they seem totally different?"
"But that's different. A human can't..."
"But I'm not human, my boy!"
"Well, I know... But what are you? You've never told us the name of your people. Or what planet you come from."
"I'm a Time Lord," stated the Doctor.
"Time Lord?" asked Ian.
"From the planet Gallifrey. Oh, but that's all in my past."
"How so?" asked Barbara.
"It's a long story," sighed the Doctor. "I got myself into a bit of trouble, and so I was forced to leave. Along with Susan. I fear I shall never be able to return, for safety's sake. No, I'm resigned to my fate as a lonely wanderer, without a home... Oh, but I don't wish to talk about it."
Barbara looked at the Doctor with a sympathetic expression, then turned to Ian as a sign to end the conversation. But Ian was already at a loss for words; he didn't know how to comfort a man who had no family or friends to turn to. There was silence in the TARDIS as the Doctor continued to fiddle with the buttons and levers on the console. Ian watched, as only the Doctor knew how to work it; though, sometimes it seemed as not even he actually did. He watched as the Doctor pulled a black lever. The room jumped. All three travelers were knocked from their feet. The room started to spin, and Ian's head felt like it was being pulled in half. The last thing he heard was the Doctor shouting, "Hold on," before the world went dark.
Ian felt the cold floor beneath him, and he groaned just to prove to himself that he could still groan. "My god! Here, I've got you," he heard a woman's voice say, and someone supported his arm as he tried to stand. "Are you okay?"
"Yes, I'm alright," Ian said, his vision coming into focus. He realized that the woman whom he was speaking to was of African descent but was clearly from England, and wore her hair loose at her shoulders. He looked around and noticed he was in a room very similar to the TARDIS, but with hexagonal impressions on the walls, and coral-like pillars reaching from floor to ceiling. The Doctor and Barabara were also there and on their feet already. The Doctor was looking around the room, and Ian could almost imagine a little smirk on his face. Also in the room were both a man sporting a coat from WWII and a man in a pin-striped suit. The latter looked quite agitated. "Not again," the man audibly groaned.
"What do you mean, 'Not again?'" asked the woman by Ian's side. "Has this happened before?"
"I'm afraid so," said the man in the suit.
"But how did they get here?" she asked. Then she turned to Ian. "I'm sorry, I don't even know your name."
Before Ian could even open his mouth, the man answered, "Ian Chesterfield. A science teacher from the Coal Hill School in London, Earth circa the 1960s."
"How'd you know that?" Ian asked in amazement.
"Because we've met," he said. "I'm the Doctor."
"Oh, that's a good one, Doctor," said Ian. But his comment was not directed at the tall, thin man in the suit, but his own Doctor. "You almost had me there. What? Are these hired actors whom you got to play a little prank on Barbara and I? You even got him to say my name wrong like you always do. For the final time, it's Chesterton, not Chesterfield. And I was feeling sorry for you since you've been so upset after Susan left, but you go and pull something like this! This is up there with the time you pretended the fluid link was out of mercury... And remember where that got us!" Ian was face to face with the old scoundrel by now, and he could feel Barbara pulling at his arm, trying to calm him. But the Doctor was not perturbed in the least.
"Calm down, my boy," he said. "This is no joke." He turned to his other supposed self. "So you're really me, hmm? Which one are you?"
"Ninth! Good heavens!"
"Doctor," asked the man in WWII attire. "Is he really you?"
"Yup," said the Tenth Doctor, with a wide smile on his face. "Totally brilliant."
"What's with that stupid grin you've got," said the First Doctor. "And you're all skin and bones. You're worse than the Dandy and the Clown rolled into one... They're not here, too, I hope?"
The other Doctor's grin fell quickly to a scowl. "No, thank god! I couldn't handle that. I wish you had left five minutes ago as it is." Barbara had to cover her mouth to stifle a giggle.
"Oh, hello, Barbara," said the Tenth Doctor, running to shake her hand. "It's so good to see you again. Oh, where are my manners... These are Martha Jones and Captain Jack Harkness. Martha, Jack, these are Barbara Wright and Ian Chatterton- uh, Chesterton. Oh, and he, as you may have already guessed, is me."
"Hello," said Martha.
"Pleased to meet you," Jack said, flashing a smile towards both Ian and Barbara, which caused Barbara to blush.
"Stop it!" the Doctor warned.
"I was only saying hello," said Jack, giving a wink to the pair before backing off again.
"Yes, well," said the First Doctor, not really interested in all the introductions. After all, he already has, or will, eventually, meet these people. He turned to Martha, "I'm famished, my child. Why don't you fetch us something to eat while the young fellow and I discuss how to resolve this business."
Martha stared at her Doctor in shock, as if asking if she was really supposed to take that kind of treatment. "Please..." the Tenth Doctor mouthed silently, bringing his palms together in an entreating gesture. Martha sighed, leaving to get the food, "I'll be right back."
Ian approached Jack, "Pardon me, but have we ever met before? You look familiar somehow."
"It's possible," said Jack, looking Ian up and down. "Though, I think I'd remember you," he added with a grin.
"I guess I was mistaken," said Ian, growing slightly afraid and retreating back to Barbara's side.
After Martha returned, and everyone had a snack, the two Doctors began to assess the situation.
"So what do you think caused all the trouble?" asked the First Doctor.
"Well, I have been doing some repairs," said the Tenth Doctor. "Perhaps the states of our respective TARDISes while crossing over each other in the Time Stream caused a collision?"
"Yes," agreed the First Doctor. "That seems like the plausible cause. Now how do we fix the problem?"
"That's the question, isn't it?"
"Show me the scammers... ah, scanners," said the First Doctor. "Ah, yes. Quite interesting. You were trying to boost the energy on the thermo-nuclear extrapolator. Oh, what's this? No wonder you've gotten us into this mess. You've butchered the ship! It's all assunder."
"That wasn't me," said the Tenth Doctor, affronted that he should be accused of such a heinous act.
The First Doctor eyed both Jack and Martha suspiciously, "That's why I don't let anyone touch my TARDIS but me."
"It wasn't them, either."
"Well, then who? Spit it out already. We haven't got all day, and besides, we're wasting precious time."
"You remember the Master?" said the Tenth Doctor.
"That jackanape? I thought I was through having to put up with his pitiful scheming."
"Nope," said the Tenth Doctor. "Sorry, I'm afraid not."
"Who's the Master?" asked Ian.
"Oh, no one," said the First Doctor. "Just another Time Lord."
"Doesn't anyone from your species have real names?"
"Well, what kind of name is Chesterton, anyway? Was your father's family from Chester? How unoriginal."
"Actually," said Ian. "That would have been my step-father's family. I never knew my real father. Apparently he just disappeared one day; my mother never knew what happened to him."
"Oh," said the First Doctor. "I'm quite sorry, dear boy."
"No, I'm considerably over it. But I grew up the dark secret of the Stephenson family."
"What was your mother's name?" asked Jack suddenly.
"Eleanor Stephenson?" said Jack, his tone slightly higher than normal. "She had auburn hair, green eyes, loved picnics, and had a strange fascination for birds?"
"Yes," said Ian, greatly confused. "Did you know her?"
"Oh god!" said Jack. "Um... I think I'm your father."
"You're what?!" cried Ian, frozen to the spot he was standing.
Everyone else stood in shock as well, except for the Tenth Doctor who couldn't help but laugh. "Oh, that's priceless!" he said. "Family reunion right here in the TARDIS. Two of my very own Companions. Wibbly-Wobbly, Timey-Whimey, and all that."
"Doctor," said Martha. "I don't think this is a laughing matter."
"Right," said the Tenth Doctor, calming down quickly into a more serious face. "Sorry. Go on."
"You're my father?" asked Ian. "But how? I mean... I know how... but... Why weren't you around?"
"I'm sorry," said Jack. "I would've, but I didn't actually know about you. Plus, I've kinda got issues that I don't really think are helpful in normal everyday situations; it might have been burdensome for you."
"Well," said Jack. "I have a hectic job..."
"Don't we all?"
"And I can't die."
"Just what I said."
"What do you mean you can't die?" said Ian. "Everything dies."
"Well," said Jack. "More accurately, I die but come back to life. It's the Doctor's fault..."
"Oh, excuse me," interrupted the Tenth Doctor. "But how is it my fault?"
"It never would have happened if I never met you. And then you just abandoned me on that space station. I had to wait to bump into you again to even find out what happened to me."
"And in the meantime, you met my mother?" added Ian.
"Well, it was a pretty long wait," admitted Jack. "I did love her, you should know."
"Yes, well," said Ian. "That doesn't really amount to much in the long run, does it?"
"Like it or not," said Jack. "You have inherited some of my traits, at least."
"Like what?" asked Ian.
"Well, we both ended up traveling with the Doctor."
"I don't know about you," said Ian. "But I'm here against my will. Barbara and I were kidnapped." He turned towards the First Doctor, who had just been watching silently the whole time, taking everything in with amusement. "And he's been promising to take us back for a while now; sometimes I think he doesn't even know how to work this ship."
"Now see here," said the First Doctor. "I know very well how to work the ship. It's just that sometimes it gets away from me."
"You kidnapped them?" Martha asked the Tenth Doctor.
"I had my reasons," he said.
"What possible reason could there have been?" she asked.
The Doctor didn't answer. But Barbara did, "Well, we did barge our way in. I suppose it was partly our own fault. He thought he was protecting Susan; but we never would have done anything to harm her."
"Who's Susan?" asked Jack.
"The Doctor's granddaughter," said Barbara, as though it were obvious.
"Wait," said Martha, turning to the Doctor. "You have a granddaughter? You never tell us anything!"
"I guess some things never change," mumbled Ian.
"Do you know how Susan is?" asked Barbara. "How did she fair with David?"
The Doctor looked down at his feet, a little uneasily, saying, "Fine. She and David got on quite well."
Martha watched the Doctor, and suddenly her expression fell, as though she just realized something. "Oh," she murmured.
The Tenth Doctor heard her and shot his head up quickly. His eyes went wide, and he shook his head at her as a warning not to say anything.
But these actions did not escape the notice of the First Doctor. He suddenly announced, "Well, we're not getting anything done by just standing here. And the three of us still need to get back to our own timelines. Come with me, young man, so we can work this out." He indicated for his future self to follow him over to the corner of the room so they could discuss the situation privately.
Once the two of them were out of range, the First Doctor asked, "What happened?"
"What do you mean?" asked the Tenth Doctor, though he knew exactly what was meant.
"What makes you think something happened?"
"My boy, I'm no dummy," said the First Doctor.
"I know," said the Tenth Doctor.
"Well? Out with it."
"I... I can't," said the Tenth Doctor. "It's not something I should tell you. But don't worry, you'll see Susan again."
The First Doctor sighed. "You're right. All this is still ahead of me. It's just... I miss her, you know."
"You did the right thing. She needed to make her own life, her own home. All that dragging her about from place to place, fearing your lives at each turn. That was no place for her. She needed security, and you couldn't provide her with much of it. What were you supposed to do, lock her up in the TARDIS forever? No... You can't keep a girl like her tied down; she takes after us too much."
The First Doctor attempted a half-smile and patted his future self on the shoulder. "I'm glad to see I've managed to retain at least some of my more admirable characteristics over the centuries. Come. It's time I returned to where I came from, eh?"
The two Doctors returned to their four companions. They were all laughing at a story Jack was telling them, even Ian. "And I'm like, who looks at a screwdriver and thinks, 'Ooh, this could be a little more sonic...'? And so he says-"
"Oi, what're you telling them?" asked the Tenth Doctor. They all suddenly silenced, looking a little guilty. "It's time we said goodbye," he continued. "Got to get them back to where they came from."
"You've never been able to manage that before," said Ian.
"Excuse me," said the Tenth Doctor. "But this thing is harder to steer than it looks. Plus, I've had to make all the repairs myself. And it wasn't exactly in mint condition when I st... acquired it."
Ian took a step back, opening a path between the Doctor and the console, and said, "My apologies, Doctor. By all means, do whatever you have to do."
The Tenth Doctor pushed his way forward, and suddenly stopped, staring at the controls and rubbing the back of his head. "Right, well..." He turned towards his former self, "Doctor, why don't you do the honors?"
The First Doctor came to stand beside himself. "Hmm... Yes. How gracious of you." He looked down at the controls. "Obviously, we need to rebuild the passageway between our two timelines, but only for long enough for Ian, Barbara, and myself to step across it. I'd say we'll have to recreate whatever it was you were doing leading up to the event of our coming here. Then it should be off we go."
"Couldn't have put it better myself," said the Tenth Doctor.
"Sounds a lot simpler than I would have expected," said Jack.
"Occum's razor, my dear fellow. The simplest answer is usually the correct one." The First Doctor turned to his two Companions. "Well, best say your goodbyes now."
"Goodbye, Martha, Jack," said Barbara, giving each a hug. "It's nice to know the Doctor has friends like you to watch out for him still. Trouble does seem to follow him, doesn't it?"
"Well," said Martha. "We wouldn't be here now if it weren't for you being there for him back then."
Ian approached Jack and offered his hand. "It was nice to meet you... Dad. Maybe we'll run into each other again?"
"I'd like that," said Jack. "Maybe one day I'll even show you where I work."
"Well, goodbye," said the Tenth Doctor to his former self.
"Yes, farewell, my boy," said the First Doctor responded. "I'm glad to see I'm still up and about. To tell you the truth, I've always been slightly afraid I wouldn't last this long. All that running, you know; I don't really care for it much."
The Tenth Doctor smiled, hovering his palm over a large, purple button. "Shall we?" he asked.
The two Doctors set to work at the controls. Pulling levers, pushing buttons. Limbs flying about at great speed. There was a bright light, and the First Doctor shouted, "It's working! Pull that green lever over there... Almost got it."
The light was growing even more blinding, and Ian and Barbara could feel a heavy magnetism pulling at them. Faint, final goodbyes could be heard in the distance. Suddenly, they found themselves back in familiar surroundings, back in their own version of the TARDIS, their own version of the Doctor panting heavily over the controls. "We made it," he said, laughing heartily. The two Companions joined in his merriment.
The Tenth Doctor heaved a sigh of relief. "Thank god."
"I don't know," said Martha. "I kinda liked meeting them. It was interesting to meet another version of you."
"Interesting, yes," said the Doctor. "Also excrusiatingly unpleasant for me. I've never really managed to get along with myself very well."
"Well," said Jack. "That's what happens when you put two equally large egos in the same room."
The Doctor gave Jack a dirty look. "I suppose it's time I dropped you off. I can manage the rest of the repairs. I think we've earned a bit of a break right now, anyway."
His two Companions agreed. The Doctor landed the TARDIS in Cardiff, near the rift. Stepping outside, they realized they hadn't yet actually seen the rest of the world gone back to normal after the Master was defeated. It caused a bit of a shock to see humans going about their normal lives as though nothing had happened, no pain, no suffering, no destruction. It was a bit eery, in fact. The scene pushed away any lingering thoughts about their recent visitors. This disrupted timeline was more interesting at the moment.
"Time was every single one of these people knew your name," said Martha. "Now, they've all forgotten you."
"Good," said the Doctor. That's the way it always is, anyway. Ian and Barbara forgot about me the second they saw a real chance at getting home. All my companions forget when they find something or someone else. That's how it should be. People need a purpose, a home; drifting aimlessly about through time and space doesn't exactly coincide with that motive. But even when they move on and forget me, I don't forget them. They're the reason I don't give up. All these people who were saved, who don't even know they were in danger... I don't need their praise. I just need them to go on and live their lives. Have a stable existence with their friends and family, the way I never seemed to be able to.
"Well," said Jack, bending under the railing and starting to walk away. "Back to work."
Even with the nagging knowledge that it's never forever, and even that he would most likely turn down the offer, the Doctor still ended up inviting Jack to travel with him again. After all, it's still fun while it lasts...
The End. Thanks for reading. Actually, I'm not so in love with the way I finished it off, so if anyone has any suggestions for improvement... Well, I suppose that's what happens when inspiration comes at two-thirty in the morning.