This story is quite scary for me to put out there, because it's a bit angsty and deep and personal later on. And it's my first multi-chapter story. So, please read it, I hope you enjoy it. I hope you stick with it.
SUMMARY This is set after The Parting of The Ways, and before The Next Doctor. It's just what I imagine might have happened in the gap between.
DISCLAIMER: I don't own Doctor Who, c'mon guys, I think we all know that.

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A group of giggling schoolgirls observed The Doctor as he walked through the town centre. He pulled at his collar self-consciously when they broke into renewed titters as he passed them, all nudging each other and muttering under their breaths. There was something about schoolgirls The Doctor found unnerving, it was the way they flicked their hair and giggled in gaggles behind their hands. It was like they were laughing at you. The Doctor thought back to when Sarah-Jane and Rose had met and realised grown women were just as bad.

He had come into the small village to find a cream cake, which he'd had a sudden craving for, and was now seriously regretting leaving his TARDIS just metres away from a secondary school. For a moment he let his mind settle on Donna, who'd introduced him to the particular delicacy of the non-desert-desert, but promptly forced himself to think of something else. He'd been doing this dance for weeks now, ever since the Day He'd Lost Them All, he'd think of one of them, Rose, Donna, anyone and have to think of something else. He'd switch between what he'd call his 'Surface Thoughts' (just frivolous nothing thoughts about Hooke's Law and the like) and his 'Real Thoughts'.

As the Doctor sat in the cafe battling with his chosen desert he wished he had one of those mobile phones or iPod's, simply so he didn't look at such a loose end, sitting there on his own. All the other single people in the cafe where talking to people on the other end of their telephones or plugged into some of that ridiculous music Martha used to listen to. The table he was sat at was next to large window and from it he could see the schoolgirls eating their lunches in the sunshine, happy and carefree, and he envied their youth. The blonde one nudged the brunette, who threw back her head in laughter at something the red-head had told her, then seemed to excuse herself and began to walk away alone, pushing up the sleeves of her blazer to feel the sun on her arms, walking with cheerful, bouncing steps. If he'd have looked harder, he would have seen that her eyes were dull and blank, the laugh was false and her cheerful steps stopped as soon as she got around the corner, but he was blinded by his own misery, a sea of wretched self-pity.

The Doctor shook his head and looked away from the girl, wishing he could merely take of his jacket to feel better, finished the cream-filled pastry, determinedly not thinking of Donna, and began the walk back to the TARDIS, which had been the perfect size for two, suddenly swamped one.

When he got to the TARDIS, he found himself a little irritated that it was open, for he'd thought he'd locked it. Perhaps he was losing his mind now on top of everything else. It wouldn't surprise him. He wasn't sure he would even care. He opened the door wishing that he could see someone, anyone, waiting for him, somebody who could save him from the silence, save him from himself.

As soon as he shut the door behind him, he could tell there was something undeniably strange about the feel of the TARDIS, the air felt different, and as he walked slowly over to the controls to put the machine into autopilot, he thought he heard someone breathing. He paused for a moment, to check, but could now hear nothing. His ears must have formed some kind of scar tissue, trying to make him think nothing had happened and everything was as it always had been. He shook his head and put his fingers to his temples, trying to ease the fuzzy headache of self-delusion.

Eventually, he roused himself and pushed the handle which sent the TARDIS off into the sea of space. His head snapped up when, as a particularly violent shudder made the floor fall to the left, he heard a stifled gasp, and was sure he'd seen somebody's fingers desperately grab onto the controls to stop themselves sliding into view. His heart gave a little jump, and he could feel the thrill of danger reverberating around his body. Action! At last, after sluggish days of self-loathing and pity, there was something to care about again!

"I know you're in here." He kept his voice cold and menacing, beginning to edge around towards the source of attention.

He heard a gasp, and then a scrambling noise of shoes against floors. Sheepishly, the school-girl from the town square stood up from behind the opposite side of controls. "Hello." She said nervously, smiling at him.

Of all the things that had raced through his mind in the moments before the girl had revealed herself, this was not one of them. The Doctor stood gaping at her utterly speechless. For a moment he just stared at her, as out of place in his TARDIS as the Titanic or a Bride. "What?"

"I was one of the girls in the town square, I think you saw us? Whoa!" She grabbed at the lever to stop herself from falling as the floor swayed from under her. Her tights were slightly wrinkled around her ankles.

He nodded dumbly, mouthing wordlessly at her.

"I left, just before you did. It was unlocked." She suddenly began to nod at him, agitated by some thought that had crossed her mind. "It was unlocked, I didn't break in or anything. I'm not a chav, before you make some sarky 'youth-of-today' comment. I haven't got an ASBO. Anyway, I just wanted to look inside. But it was unlocked."

No it wasn't, thought the Doctor, as now he was certain he'd left it locked. Then, another, more disturbing thought occurred to him. "How did you see it?"

"Pardon?"

"How did you see it, how did you see this?"

"It was just right there. It's a blue box, not exactly invisible." She crossed her eyebrows in bewilderment, confused by his strange line of questioning.

She couldn't have seen it, it's not supposed to be seen, it's supposed to make people want to look away. He shook his head confusedly. "But why? Why would you just follow a strange man you didn't know into a blue box?" The Doctor registered that he should be angry, as opposed to just intrigued by this strange girl. God, he must be desperate for company.

"Well, you're really very lovely looking, and I have double maths after lunch." The girl said this as if it was the most natural thing in the world. "And I got in here because I wanted to see what they looked like inside, my Gran has a picture of one in her attic, on a postcard." She looked around at the interior of the TARDIS, her left hand slightly raised, fingers trailing through empty air as if caressing the time around them. It looked respectful. He liked her for that. "Something's telling me they're not all like this though."

The Doctor was blown away by the composure of this girl who stood there in a striped tie and blazer, inside a time machine with a strange man, talking of double maths and attics. Up close, he could see that her hair was not so much brown as rusted copper, like the less-reliable parts of the TARDIS engine. She still had her blazer sleeves rolled up, her straight fringe had become tousled, her green eyes gleaming and her pale cheeks were flushed with excitement.

"What is this, then? Some kind of film set or something? I know they're filming a science fiction film up the road, it's all the boys can talk about." She rolled her eyes. "Is it on some kind of see-saw thing, like at Disney World? How do they get it bigger on the inside?"

"Umm," The Doctor realised he couldn't throw this girl out of the TARDIS just yet, as they were currently floating in the middle of some far-flung galaxy, that, and he had no idea where she came from. "The thing is... what's your name?"

"Scarlett. Scarlett Redmond." She held out her hand for The Doctor to shake. He saw that she had chipped electric blue nail varnish on her chewed fingernails, and on her left hand she had scrawled Mths Hwk in black biro. "What's yours?"

"The Doctor." She had a strong grip, and didn't break eye-contact once. He wished she would, her piercing green eyes unnerved him slightly.

Scarlett snorted. "Doctor Who? No-one's called 'The Doctor', who do you think you are? A Bond villain?"

He frowned. "No, my name really is The Doctor."

"I'm sure. What do you do then, heart Doctor? Plastic Surgeon?" Scarlett folded her arms across her chest and stared him out.

The Doctor raised an eyebrow, a wicked gleam in his eyes, feeling alive for the first time in a long time. "I'm a Timelord."

"A Timelord? What's that?"

"It means I travel in time and space."

She swallowed a gasp, and for the first time a look of real worry swept over her pretty features. "Get out." The air suddenly seemed thick as Scarlett stared at The Doctor, and then around at the TARDIS, looking at the controls and the lights. Rushing over to the back wall she put her hands up and felt it's solidness, gasping she ran to do the same to the sides. Turning around to face him again, wide-eyed and mouth open in shock, "You're telling the truth aren't you?"

He nodded slowly. "Open the door, but stay far back."

Scarlett walked over to the door and, her hand trembling slightly, pushed down the handle.

Outside was The Universe.

Stars, moons, planets, a patchwork quilt of the glory of space.

Travelling for hundreds of years you could get a bit jaded with it all, supernovas and cascades became part of daily life, a bit like brushing your teeth, but watching someone discover that beyond the Earth there is infinity was almost like discovering it all over again. As he watched this new girl, he couldn't see her anymore, but Rose and Martha and Donna. It was their look of wonder and disbelief he was looking at, not this girls.

When Scarlett turned around the Doctors hands were shaking on the controls, but he smiled when he looked at her.

"This is amazing." She breathed. "I'm in a time machine. With a time travelling... Alien?"

"I prefer Timelord, but if we're being picky, alien's passable."

"So you can go anywhere at any time? Like, if I said Mars in the 12th century, you could take me?"

"I could, but I wouldn't recommend it. Not enough water and far too much dust, gets all caught up in your hair and..... well, better places to go. There's this one planet made of diamonds."

"Diamonds!!!! This is so cool!!" Scarlett began to jump up and down on the spot, hugging herself and squealing. "So, how many more of you are there? Do you have a planet? Will you take me there?"

A look of pain crossed the Doctors handsome face. "No." Subject. Closed.

Scarlett stopped bouncing and stood, fingers tracing patterns on her palm. An aura of joy surrounded her, pure and human. It made the Doctor smile.

"You're very believing of all this. It usually takes people a lot longer to trust me."

"I believe in magic, I've got to get my kicks where I can." She joked, emitting a hazy, petrol-chuckle. "Not everything is black and white, true or false. I guess this is just one of those times where someone's blurred the lines. There are more things in Heaven and Earth than dreamt of in your philosophy. "

"Hamlet." He nodded in appreciation, impressed. "I met Shakespeare you know."

"Seriously? That's incredible; he was a genius, a genius! The way he used words! Oh! What was he like?"

"A bit of a flirt really."

"Oh." Scarlett looked crestfallen.

The Doctor quickly backtracked; there was no need to shatter her illusion. "Troubled though, a dark and tortured soul. And like you said, brilliant."

"I'm so jealous; I bet you've met JRR Tolkien too."

"Now he was one incredible man, and he made a good cup of tea." For a moment he was lost in memories of the perfect amount of milk and sugar. "Right! Well!" The Doctor began to leap around the dashboard, pressing buttons and making things whirr and beep.

"What are you doing?" Scarlett called over the racket.

"Taking you back home of course!"

"You're not!" Her voice was panicked. She followed him round, trying to stop him pressing the buttons. "You cannot take me back now; you have to show me somewhere."

"I can't, you're only about 12, and you must have parents and school you need to get back to!"

"I'm 15, and double maths, I told you!" Quickly anticipating where he was headed next Scarlett pulled herself up onto one of the panels, smiling in a way which made him think that this girl was used to using her feminine charms to get what she wanted. "Now you can't reach it, you're not taking me home."

The Doctor looked horrified. "This is delicate equipment; you can't just go sitting on it! We might be headed to a black hole now!"

"Oh I don't think so." Scarlett crossed her legs and raised a perfectly arched eyebrow, "This is my lucky day."

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Well done for making it to the end of the first chapter, there will be more to come! I give you all one of the aforementioned cream buns =] Please reveiw if you liked it and if you didn't, because I like constructive criticism. Thankyou!