Title: Like Blazes
Written for: ellen_fremedon for Yuletide 2009
Summary: "Run!" the Doctor said. Number 6 didn't need to be told twice.
The presence of a tall blue police box on the far side of the arts and crafts hall was not, in itself, of great interest. Bizarre architecture and décor were a common sight in the Village. And he'd studied his prison's layout in enough detail to know that elements of it were added and removed frequently, often for no discernable reason. So he made a note of it and continued on his way.
A short distance further along on his daily morning walk, he observed that someone had dropped an object on the path. It was made of shiny metal, shaped roughly like a pen, with what appeared to be a light of some sort at the end where the ink would normally come out. He picked it up and turned it over in his hands. Though he was well acquainted with the latest technology, this item was completely unfamiliar to him.
It presented a problem. If he didn't recognize it, it must be either absolutely cutting edge or top secret. But if it were secret, why should it be lying here for anyone to find, as if it had slipped accidentally from somebody's pocket? Whoever ran the Village, he knew they would never lose a piece of technology like this. Unless they meant to. And meant for him to find it? For what purpose? He was too cautious to fiddle with any of the buttons, so he had no way of determining what the thing was for.
His mind was gnawing at the mystery when he became aware of the sound of distant shouting. He listened, trying to pinpoint the source – it seemed to be coming from the direction of the café, or maybe the chess lawn. After a moment of thought, he tucked the silver pen-shaped object into his pocket and began to jog towards the noise.
When he rounded a corner and the café came into view, his eyes immediately found the strangers: a tall man in a leather jacket and a younger woman with blonde hair. Neither of them was wearing a number pinned to their clothing. New arrivals, then. His interest sharpened. Perhaps they weren't completely cowed yet like all the others; he might acquire some allies. Or it might be another trick.
"Go away!" a woman he knew only as Number 53 was shouting, making shooing motions with her hands. "We're closed! Go someplace else!"
"All we asked for was a cup of tea!" the blonde retorted. "It's a café, isn't it? Some hospitality you lot have!"
"Rose, don't antagonize the locals," the man said. He smiled broadly at Number 53. "Now then, could you at least tell us where we are?" In response, she retreated into the café and slammed the door, leaving the two strangers standing alone outside. The area had cleared quickly once the commotion had started; he'd seen a few stragglers disappearing hurriedly into houses and around corners.
An alarm began to clamor.
"Sounds like they're unhappy with you," he said.
Two heads turned to him in surprise. The man recovered first. He strode forward with no sign of worry or apprehension and said, "Nice to meet you, I'm the Doctor, this is Rose. Mind telling us where we are?"
"You're in the Village," he replied with a touch of wryness. "Haven't they told you yet?"
"Told us what?" Rose said. "And who are you?"
"iThey/i call me Number 6. That's what they do here, in the Village: take away your name and give you a number. What did you do? See something you shouldn't have? It can't have been very serious; you two don't look like professionals."
"We're just travelers, just passing through," said Rose. "We didn't do anything. Is this a prison or something? Doctor?" She turned to her companion.
The Doctor suddenly threw his hands in the air as if he'd had a revelation. "The Village! Of course, now I remember. I'm sorry, Rose… I think we've ended up in Wales again."
"iWales/i?" said Number 6 in astonishment. The Village, in Wales? It couldn't be.
"Why is it always Wales?" Rose sighed.
"Are you saying," Number 6 said, "that you weren't brought here? You came here by some means of your own?"
"Like she said, we're travelers," the Doctor said, smiling breezily as if he weren't standing in the world's most surreal prison with alarms ringing all around him.
Number 6 had a sudden inkling. He pulled the silver object out of his pocket. "Is this yours, by any chance?"
The Doctor's face lit up and he snatched the thing away. "Where did you find that?" And he shot Rose an exasperated look. She reddened. "See if I ever let you hold it again," the Doctor said to her.
"If you came here, you must have some way of leaving. Some method of transportation, yes?"
"Naturally, why do you ask?"
"Because," and he pointed behind them to where a familiar white bubble had appeared at the far end of the path, "our jailers are here. So iif/i anyone's going to be escaping, the time would be now."
Oddly enough, neither Rose nor the Doctor seemed upset by the impending arrival of the Village's most feared watchdog. Instead, they exchanged manic grins.
"You're coming, then?" the Doctor said.
"Anywhere but here!"
Rover's hair-raising scream tore through the air.
"iRun/i!" the Doctor said, grabbing Rose's hand and hauling off back in the direction Number 6 had come from.
Number 6 didn't need to be told twice. He took to his heels, hard on the Doctor's tail. As Rover's roar drowned out the pounding of their feet, he thought that this must be absolutely the most hopeless escape he'd attempted yet. It wasn't even a plan.
But somehow, he had a good feeling about things. Maybe this would be the one. Maybe this time he would finally be free.
When they reached the blue box and tumbled through the door, he knew he'd been right.