Just Fruity

A Christmas holiday Fruitcakefic, just because it wanted to be done for my fellows at the 'Death by Aspirin' forums. As required for this obscure cracky genre, Ten loses some clothing, and ends up chained to Three by the Master, and splattered with cake.... yes, that's a requirement. Obviously you can't take it too seriously.

~~oo000oo~~

"Ow! What th'…" The Doctor stood in dismay, staring down at his clothing which hung off of him in mere tatters, or what could be seen of it did; the rest was hidden beneath the thick, sticky layer of fruitcake that now spattered the entire room.

"What? WHAT?" he repeated. "Whoever heard of an exploding fruitcake? Much less an entire rack of exploding fruitcakes? Well, I mean, aside from everyone who has, I suppose they've been known to have explosive ingredients that get a bit overdone from time to time and I remember one that was used as a giant briquette for that bonfire… and the wadded ones on sticks we used for torches once…what a stench…"

"Whatever are you blithering on about now?" a cultured voice interrupted with irritation. The Doctor turned, or waded, slightly to regard his older-appearing velvet-clad companion, himself, who had apparently miraculously escaped being splatted by virtue of sitting in a Doctor-shaped fruitcake-splatterless pocket just behind him. The chains that still held them together clinked as he climbed to his feet.

"I've always blithered," he accused.

"Yes, but I used to be able to keep it generally to myself."

"Well, I'm hardly talking to anyone else now, am I? Besides, you don't seem surprised by all this."

"Has my memory degraded that much as well? School days, my dear fellow."

"Oh. OH," the younger-appearing Doctor said. "That exploding fruitcake. Come to think of it, it was his recipe wasn't it?"

"One of his accidental ones. An unexpected chemical reaction at first. The headmaster was quite shocked but…"

"God, how we laughed! I've think I've blocked out whatever the consequences were, but I distinctly remember the Master blaming me. Us."

"Well, yes. He hasn't changed much, has he? If you don't mind my saying, you may want to scoop a bit more cake onto certain regions to preserve our dignity."

"Oh, um."

"On the other hand, here, take my cloak."

"Right."

"In fact," the velvet one continued conversationally as his other self tried to scrape off wads of the brown sticky mess, rearranged what whole cloth was left and wrap himself in the proffered garment, "I expect he's used that particular recipe more than once over the years. Note how he had the time until the approximate detonation rather finely estimated for the entire rack. Over a hundred loaves within the space of three seconds might be admirable under other circumstances."

"But why? I mean, what is he thinking? Bizarre force-feeding? Death by fruitcake explosion seems a bit unlikely. Not that he generally makes sense but I seem to recall he at least had the so-called method to the madness when...." He paused and made little spitting noises. "Bleah. I hate citron."

His other self didn't respond. He was half-kneeling, resuming the jiggery-pokery on the locked door that they'd been starting in on before being interrupted by erupting confections. There was a click. He stood and pulled it open, leaving a swath of flattened cake on the floor.

"As I was saying before all that, I really didn't mean to run into myself," the now cloak-wrapped Doctor continued as they shuffle-clinked their way out into the hall. "I was just Christmas shopping. That little sweets shop on the river, the one with those marvellous fruit pastes…"

"Yes?" the other said carefully scanning up and down the hall and gesturing to the right. They set off in tandem.

"The chap retired and closed it up later. Had to hop back to fetch some of those sour orange and currant ones…"

"You might have tried landing a little closer to it then," the other replied dryly. "Instead of in UNIT's car park."

"Oh, well, you know how it is," waffled his companion vaguely. "And the Master would pick this year to try out his sentient candy experiments."

"Not terribly sentient were they?"

"In spite of my sympathy for the logic of sugar being seen as a basic component in brain chemistry… no. Though I'll never forget the Brigadier with those green jellies."

That brought a chuckle. "That was rather good, wasn't it? Always in top form when under attack, the Brigadier. Quick-footed as well."

"A shame about Bessie, though." He bumped into himself as another corner was peered cautiously around, then followed along again.

"Yes. Well, I'm sure I can come up with something to get the sugar syrup out of her system, but I'm afraid her seats will be ruined." He glanced back disapprovingly. "You should've stayed back at UNIT." They stopped again as he unlocked another door.

"Oh, come on! You know how hard it is to resist a chance to take a spin in Bessie and there you were, going right past…"

The other rubbed a hand over his white hair and sighed. "Well, I expect the Brigadier will manage. And I did see the men; Sergeant Benton was quite deft at stomping licorice cats by the time I left." He tried the lock again, this time successfully. The cooler breeze of the outdoors greeted them along with a spattering of rain.

"So…since we overheard enough of good old gloat-and-reveal-all's plans to know he was targeting UNIT to cause some sort of holiday mischief for us, exactly how are we getting back there?"

His younger self raised his brows and tipped his head at the nearby public phonebooth. "I know it's a bit primitive for communication methods, but phones do still have their uses."

The other wrapped himself more firmly in the cloak as the wind tried to lift it from his half-bare legs. Most of it was adhered via fruitcake, but he wasn't exactly feeling publicly presentable. "Grin and bear it time." He shuffle-clinked along with himself up the alley to the booth. "And I mean b-e-a-r," he added as an afterthought. "In spite of the potential for otherwise."

"I hadn't thought otherwise, but thank you for the reassurance. It would be most disquieting to think I'd also developed exhibitionist tendencies in my old age." They reached the booth and squashed into the small opening together out of the wind while the dandy poked buttons and listened to the receiver.

A middle-aged woman with a black brolly went past, trailing a small wire cart stuffed with groceries. The Doctor grinned at her self-consciously and hugged his sort-of-borrowed cloak tighter about him, causing her to frown in abject disapproval, scurrying down the sidewalk more quickly than before.

"This is the Doctor," said the one on the phone. "No, I'll explain later. I need you to send a car… look, would I ask for one if I had one?…Who is this? No, I won't answer a single one of your idiotic questions, get me the Brigadier!" he snapped.

The Doctor hugged the cloak and looked up at the rain-dark sky with a smile. "Ah, the good old days."

~~oo00oo~~

"They've been showing up in the most ungodly places," the Brigadier said, stabbing his swagger-stick towards yet another stack of sticky brown fruitcakes. "We can't tell how; it's like they're just appearing out of thin air."

"We've found four just in the loo," Benton put in with mild amusement from where he leaned against one of the walls, flicking bits of licorice out of his boot tread into a plastic bin. "No one's eaten any, of course."

The Brigadier nodded. "Right. Standard warnings, then sent off to see what the devil is in them. What do you… or you, Doctors, know about these?"

The brown-haired man that had been introduced, albeit only to Benton and the Brigadier, as yet another version of the Doctor stuck his hands in his newly acquired UNIT-uniform pockets and politely deferred to 'their' Doctor. "I think I have a pretty good idea."

That one tipped his white-haired head in acknowledgment. "Thank you. In brief, I fully expect each and every one of these fruitcakes will eventually develop a chemical reaction and explode."

"What?" the Brigadier demanded. "Why didn't you say so at once? Sergeant!"

"Sir!" Benton stopped flicking licorice.

"Get some men and get these things out of here immediately. Metal encasements."

"Yessir!"

"Wait!" the Doctors said in unison.

"We've a better idea," the brown-haired one said with a grin.

"Yes," agreed their own version. "Gather them up and get them to his TARDIS."

"The one in the car-park?" Benton asked.

"That's my baby," grinned its owner. "I've a microtransmat I picked up. I can rig it up to be temporarily transtemporal if I have it to the TARDIS multidimensional connective nevermind."

"Does it matter if I know what that means?" the Brigadier asked as Benton obediently ran out of the room to start the fruitcake brigade running. "Or would I regret asking? And should we be expecting anymore of those damnable walking sweets?"

"If you do find any just step on them," the same one quipped, "judging by the floors around here, it seems to have done the job so far. Now if you'll pardon me, I've some rather complicated computations to string along." He strode out of the office.

Raising a brow at the man's abrupt exit, Lethbridge-Stewart turned back to his desk only to find a fruitcake in his chair. "Isn't there any way you can turn off whatever is sending these things?" he grumbled accusingly, picking it up and thrusting it at the remaining Doctor.

The Doctor looked slightly smug. "Yes, actually. We've already rigged a scrambler, I'll finish it up once I get back to my lab."

"If it scrambles anything I should be aware of, besides fruitcakes, warn me before you turn the blasted thing on." He paused and stomped something on the floor by his desk. "We need a sweets exterminator."

"I would recommend small children," the Doctor commented as he headed out the door with the most recent fruitcake tucked under his arm. "Except I understand their mothers don't appreciate them eating off the floors."

~~oo00oo~~

"That's the last of them," Sergeant Benton said with satisfaction. "At least we think so." He ticked them off on his fingers. "Complete sweep of the grounds, the two from the mechanic's shed and that one from the cloak room were the last." He watched as the brown-haired and white-haired Doctors took turns fetching them into the 'other' TARDIS. "There won't be more of them showing up, I mean, whatever you did won't wear off, will it?" he asked 'his' Doctor the next time he came out.

"Oh no, unless the Master starts completely from scratch. We've blocked every known ingredient individually as well every possible combination of them both raw and baked from being sent, at least with transmat signals. That's what he was using, you know."

"Right, good," said Benton, who didn't really know but was content with the answer anyway.

He straightened slightly as the Brigadier joined them in regarding the blue box that sat in their flat-candy speckled car park. "Thompson reported it completed. You're sure you put all of them in there?"

"Yessir, as far as we know, sir. Jacobs got that one out of the ducts, Brown reported the shrubbery cleaned out and the others had an all-clear."

"The jellies look very efficiently flattened," the Doctor noted, looking down. "These were obviously flattened by something heavier than a human foot."

"Lawn rollers!" Benton said proudly.

"Three more to go!" came the other Doctor's voice from inside the TARDIS where he was busy feeding the cakes one at a time into the small blinking box by the console. "Two…and… one. Voila! I just love this, what a great Christmas!"

"So, all of those fruitcakes have been sent back to the Master?" Lethbridge-Stewart asked his Advisor. "Won't he just send them out again?"

The Doctor flicked a bit of fruitcake crumb off the lace on his cuff and grinned. "No."

"Why not? Because of that block scrambled thing the two of you did?"

"No, because, as I already said, they're going to explode. And being re-transmatted across a temporal line that was never intended for baked goods is going to make them even more unstable than they already were."

The brown-haired Doctor, still in his borrowed UNIT-wear popped his head out with a maniacal grin that made his sanity look a bit questionable. "Eight…seven…six…five!" he announced.

The others looked vaguely alarmed at the countdown. "Cover?" the Brigadier inquired reasonably.

The Doctor beside him shook his head. "Four! Not necessary. Three!" he contributed.

"…Two…one! Splodge!" the other reported with almost childish glee. "Or, since they were staggered because I could only feed one through at a time, "splodgesplodgesplodgesplodge and so on. I only wish I could see his face. You think he'll remember that incident with the headmaster?"

His younger self stuck his hands in his velvet jacket pockets and looked immensely pleased with himself, both of him. "I only wish we could've ascertained that he was there. He may return to a TARDIS full of fruitcake bits after the fact."

"Either way, serves him right."

The Brigadier nodded. "Well done, both of you. Speaking of which..." He hedged, trying to figure out how to tactfully ask about the continuing confluence of duplicated Doctor. "…we do have a holiday party planned for tomorrow evening. Should we be expecting two of you or one?"

"Oh no," the velvet Doctor said. "He's not staying on." He turned a pointed look upon his elder self as he was brought out of his amused good humour and reminded of that transgression. "He shouldn't have been here in the first place and the fewer events he overlaps with the better."

"Oh, right!" the target of that commentary responded. "Been a jolly time, though hasn't it? But well… yeah, sorry, sorry! I suppose now that that's over, I should be shoving off." He looked reluctant.

"Two of me is one too many," the white-haired one reminded him firmly, then smiled. "as the Master has no doubt found out."

"Well, that's that then!" the brown haired one agreed in cheerful resignation, waving a hand. "You heard me, as I said, I suppose I shouldn't stick around any longer seeing as I really wasn't supposed to be here in the first place. Goodbye, Brigadier, it's been great. I'll be off, handshakes and holiday wishes and cheap drinks with plastic holly sprigs stuck in them to everyone, give my love to Liz or Jo or whoever it was at this time. Sorry! It's been a while. Merry Christmas and so on. Ta!" He pronounced rapidly and retreated into his police box with another wave. The door closed then opened back up as he stuck his head back out. "Oh, and thanks for the uniform! Wearing it has been vastly amusing, that."

"What's amusing about the uniform?" the Brigadier groused as Benton looked down at his own and shrugged.

There was a familiar grinding noise that made the remaining Doctor clear his throat and look away for a moment; the blue box faded from view.

There was a pause, then the Brigadier looked at his current Scientific Advisor. "Are you quite sure he was you?"

"Absolutely - as unsettling as it may be. And thankfully he had a working TARDIS…" He trailed off.

The Brigadier's moustache twitched as he regarded the Doctor's faraway expression. He clapped a hand to his shoulder. "So you do get that old contraption of yours flying again someday, do you?"

The blue eyes returned to him then, suddenly joined with a bright smile of real pleasure. "So it appears. And that may have been the very best Christmas present of all."

~~oo00oo~~