A/N: I've decided to do this one in two parts as it's much longer than I planned! Fred has her first adventure with the Doctor (continuing on from 'Mind Squeeze').
'Are you sure it's not on fire?' Fred asked the Doctor. She was led almost flat on her stomach, her hand hovering over the dusty ground.
'Of course! It's definitely not on fire. Always trust a doctor.' The Doctor was leaning casually against the T.A.R.D.I.S, waving around his sonic screwdriver in an effort to detect, well, anything. The planet the T.A.R.D.I.S had taken them seemed to be utterly deserted. The Doctor knew for a fact this wasn't possible; at least he was pretty sure it wasn't. It was hard to think when Fred was waving her hand above the ground and asking if it was on fire. He was already beginning to feel that he might have been better off alone.
'Are you absolutely positive is not on fire?'
'Oh, for crying out loud!' The Doctor lowered his sonic screwdriver and glared at his new companion. 'Yes! I'm sure! It's just heat waves!'
'Hmm.' Fred wasn't convinced but she pushed herself up and dropped the matter. 'Why is it so hot here?'
'It is a bit toasty, isn't it?' The Doctor confirmed, pulling off his jacket and slinging it over his arm. He held his hand up to his eyes to protect them from the beaming sunlight. There was nothing in sight. Just plains of reddish brown dust as far as the eye could see. 'Come on, then.' He said to Fred, tucking his sonic screwdriver into his jacket pocket. 'Let's see if we can find someone to turn down the heating.'
'Doctor?' Fred asked, almost jogging to keep up with his considerably longer strides.
'Where are we?'
'Ah!' the Doctor waggled a finger and grinned. 'That, I can answer! We are on the planetParum Terra! Population estimate is over 6 ½ billion and yet...' he trailed off. 'There is no one in sight. Now why is that?'
He glanced at Fred, who was attempting to fan herself and get a grip on the situation. 'So we're on another planet? We're somewhere in the universe? Somewhere that's not Earth?'
'Yes!' He confirmed, his patience now wearing thin. He had really hoped that she had got over this phase yesterday when he spent all of his time showing her the classic shots of the Moon, Earth, Jupiter; all the greats. The Doctor often relied on them to just confirm that he wasn't mad and the T.A.R.D.I.S really wasn't just a Police Box. For a while, she even suggested that he had made some models of the planets to trick her. He pointed out that it wasn't April Fools' Day and that it really was all real. It didn't normally take as long as it did yesterday. Yesterday! Usually, the Doctor would have gone straight into some space travel (maybe even time travel!) but they had both been so exhausted after the hours of convincing she had needed that they slept for a few hours before he woke and announced that he was going to punch in some co-ordinates and see where they ended up. Finally, she was excited and he thought she was over the 'I-don't-believe-anything-you-say-even-if-I-really-REALLY-want-to' phase. Or so he thought. She seemed to be slipping back into it now. Oh, he really hoped not! In every companion, that phase went thus for the Doctor: fun for ten minutes (secretly, he loved that time where he had to convince them it was all true), then cute for five (bless them! They really had no idea!), then smug for twenty (he really WAS a Time Lord and had a time/space travel machine) and then a mutual acceptance between them that said companion was one of the few people on Earth who could explore new worlds beyond their own and the Doctor would be the one to show them. Then it was down to some good, old fashioned exploring.
'Wow. This is...just...mad.' Fred twirled around, scanning their surroundings.
'It's mad because there's nothing around and this planet is highly populated. I mean...' he waved his arms, gesturing toward the horizon. 'There is nothing here!'
'Then what's that?' Fred said as she staggered backwards in an attempt to keep up with the Doctor's long legs. Curse her lack of height. The Doctor wheeled around and sure enough, there was a stone building; it was way in the distance but the Doctor was so glad to see some sort of life, he could cope with the long walk in the glaring sun.
'Perhaps you'll be useful after all!' he cried happily, taking Fred's arm and leading her towards the building. He starting striding, excited by the prospect of something to explore. 'Right! The year is 2010, the same as on Earth. I thought we'd do some space rather time travel first; that can be a bit much for a first go. Anyway! The year is 2010 here but there could be some very advanced technology compared to Earth not that that'd be hard. You know, you lot are really...' he trailed off, realising that she hadn't butted in and defended the human race like he had expected her to do. He turned to her but was met with thin air. How had he lost her already? Oh, it wasn't his fault this time, was it? He frantically whipped around and breathed a sigh of relief when he saw her a few metres behind his walking very slowly. He rolled his eyes.
'C'mon, Fred! What's taking so long?' He called and she looked up and glared. She finally reached him, not looking happy. He was shocked. 'It's your first time on another planet and you're already frowning! What's wrong with you?'
She huffed. 'One, your strides are way too long for my little legs to keep up with. Two, why didn't you tell me that we'd be going to a desert planet? It's murder trying to walk across dusty sandy stuff in these.' She waved her feet at him. Ah. She was still wearing those pale blue retro heels she had been wearing when he first met her. She studied her.
'You have got little legs, haven't you?' He said, grinning.
'Oh, I'm glad you find my legs amusing. Just the thing a girl wants to hear.'
'Well, why don't you just take them off?' he asked, shrugging.
'Can you do that? Well, humans can't.'
'What? No! Not your legs; your shoes!'
'Oh!' she shook her head. 'I tried that. The sand's boiling.'
'Is it?' He peered down at it. It didn't look too bad. He tutted, pulled off one of his boots and a sock and pushed his foot into the sand. He met her gaze. 'See? It's fi – ow! Ow, ow!' He winced and pushed his foot back into smooth, cool boot gratefully. 'It's hot.'
'I know!' she sighed. 'That's what I just said. This might all be baffling to me but I'm not completely stupid.'
He looked at her and then at his sock still led on the sand. 'Do want my socks? That might work! Hang on.'
Before she could respond, he pulled off his other boot and sock and then pushed his foot back into the boot. He held out both socks with a grin. 'There you are! Take your shoes off and wear my socks. They're quite thick. They're pretty good socks actually, can't remember where I got them from. Maybe it was when – '
'Yes! OK. Thank you.' She took the socks quickly before he could launch into an anecdote about his socks. She took off her shoes and pulled on the sock over her white lace tights. Hmm. Not as stylish as she may have hoped but her feet didn't burn anymore. She left her shoes on the sand. By the looks of her surroundings, she doubted many people were around to take them. She wiggled her toes in the large socks and grinned. He grinned too.
'See? Problem solved! Brilliant start! Onwards!'
It took them the best part of an hour to reach the stone building, the Doctor babbling madly about this and that, occasionally picking up a handful of sand, pulling out his sonic screwdriver, starting to scan it before wincing and cursing and letting the sand slip through his fingers; small red burn marks dotted over his large hands. He examined his palms.
'This sand isn't sand. It's different. It shouldn't have that sort of temperature...oh!' Fred followed the Doctor's gaze and found herself watching a man in a toga lean against the stone building.
'It looks like Ancient Rome.' She remarked, peering around the Doctor at the man.
'It seems that we have landed an undeveloped planet. The life is very primitive much like Earth's many years ago.' He seemed excited.
'Right. Why is that so exciting?'
'When something is undeveloped, there's usually a reason for it. You know, massive debt, lack of natural resources, strong influences from other planets that sort of thing.' He beamed. 'I wonder why Parum Terra is so lacking in advancement.'
Before she could respond, the Doctor marched toward the man.
'Hello, there! What's this then?' He looked at the man expectantly and placed one hand on the building, patting the stone as though it were an old friend.
'Cafe.' The man responded as though he were stupid. Fred blinked. She hadn't been expecting that. She looked to the Doctor, expecting him to be surprised by this news but he just seemed even more excited.
'Is it really?' He exclaimed. 'How amazing! Shall we go in?' he asked over his shoulder at Fred who nodded, still baffled by this new turn of events. Just as the Doctor was about to enter the cafe, he stopped suddenly sending Fred crashing into his back.
'This wall is cold but it gets hotter the closer you get to the ground.' He slid his hand up and down the wall a few times before turning to Fred and asking 'Why?'
'I don't know.' She replied, feeling like he had put her on the spot.
'Just tell me one reason. Give me the first reason that comes into your head.'
She floundered. 'Um...the sun is low in the sky?'
He laughed. 'Nope. Try again. Think. Notice everything. Look at your feet. '
She flushed, embarrassed by her ignorance and angry at the Doctor for making her feel like she was back at school. She was about to give up when a thought came to her.
'Because the heat is coming from the bottom of the building rather than the top.'
The Doctor nodded. 'So...?' he encouraged.
'So...the heat isn't coming from the sun. It's coming from the ground.'
'Yes!' He exclaimed. 'Brilliant!' She beamed, feeling pleased with herself. 'C'mon. Let's go inside and test our theory.'
They entered the cafe and saw that was exactly what it was: a greasy cafe selling teas and coffees from polystyrene cups and bacon butties. Fred couldn't believe her eyes. She only realised she had been stood stock still in the doorway when the Doctor grabbed her hand and yanked her in. They sat down at a table near the window and Fred saw both worlds collide: the Ancient Rome style desert and the modern, greasy cafe collided so vibrantly if almost heard her eyes. There were other men and women in the cafe dressed in the same sort of attire as the man outside. To Fred's surprise, they only glanced at her and the Doctor's state of dress before resuming their conversations. The Doctor sat across from her and studied her with a grin on his face.
'Isn't this intriguing? Modern technology meets ancient landscapes. There must be some sort of theatre production about this sort of thing.' He waved his arm in the air and a waitress came over to their table.
'What can I get for your today?' she asked in false enthusiasm.
'Ooh! Well, I don't know what you've got. Tell me what's good!'
'Wha'?' The waitress asked, frowning.
Fred watched the encounter, her gaze flickering from the Doctor to the waitress and then back again. She had no idea how he had the guts to be so...open. He was so loud and obviously weird and she couldn't help but admire him for it. While she pondered him, the Doctor himself was continuing his conversation with the waitress.
'Just tell me what you like from the menu! What's popular? What do people buy?'
She waitress sighed and chewed the gum in her mouth. 'Well, people like coffee, tea and cherry-ade. A lot of people on dates like to have a milkshake with two straws.' The waitress glanced between the two of them and Fred suddenly realised what she was insinuating. She laughed nervously, embarrassed.
'Erm...we're not – '
'What else?' the Doctor cut across smoothly a silly grin on his face and seemingly amused by the waitress' first impression of them. 'What do people buy loads of?'
'Well...' the waitress started chewing again. 'They like bacon butties and chips and fried breakfasts and Gauisus Diripio and pasties – '
The Doctor's face fell. Suddenly, he didn't look excited. He looked alarmed and Fred felt a tingle up her spine. Something wasn't right here and she could tell just by watching the Doctor.
'What did you say? Say that last thing again.' Fred had never seen him like this. Admittedly, she had only known him for about a day and a half but it was hard to ever imagine the jolly Doctor she met could ever be serious or alarmed.
'No, no, no! The thing before pasties. What was that?'
'Yes! That! What is that?'
'You dunno what Gauisus Diripio is?' The waitress was frowning and twirling the gum in her mouth, as though she thought he was trying to be funny. Fred watched as the Doctor hesitated and found herself wishing that she could be privy to what he was thinking. The Doctor's face broke into a huge smile.
'Oh!Gauisus Diripio! Sure! What am I like? We'll have two please. Oh, and two cups of tea!' The waitress nodded, scribbled something down her notepad and toddled off towards the counter.
Fred waited until she was out of earshot before leaning over the table and muttering, 'What's Gauisus Diripio?'
'No idea.' The Doctor said grimly. Fred watched him frown as he fiddled with the sugar on the table and had an urge to slap him or pour the sugar in his face or something – anything – to wipe that worried look off his face. Fred couldn't bare it so she settled for quizzing him instead.
'Why are you worried? I mean, we're on another planet, aren't we? There's bound to be things we've never heard of before!'
The Doctor shook his head. 'No; this is different. She spoke another language, yes?' Fred nodded. 'But only for that word, yes?' She nodded again. 'Well, the T.A.R.D.I.S can translate all languages so we can understand them as though they are our own.'
'Yeah, but she was saying something that belonged here, wasn't she? If it only exists here then it'll have no translation will it?'
The Doctor shook his head again. 'No. She said something that we would normally recognise; something that didn't get translated. How? It isn't possible; unless there's something wrong.'
'Wrong with what?' Fred asked, starting share his worry.
'Well that's the question, isn't it? There's either something wrong with this planet or...' he trailed off and gazed out of the window. 'Or there's something wrong with the T.A.R.D.I.S.' He met her gaze again. 'And we'd better find out.'
'Here's your tea and your Gauisus Diripio.' The waitress had returned and was placing two steaming cups of tea and a saucer with two Gauisus Diripio. She turned on her heel and wandered over to another table.
Both the Doctor and Fred squinted at the saucer. The Gauisus Diripio were both individually wrapped and were rectangular in shape. The Doctor picked one up and Fred followed suit. She studied it before:
'Isn't this just a chewing gum?'
The Doctor's eyes lit up. 'Yes, it is a chewing gum but I've got a feeling there's no 'just' about it.' He was beaming again, happiness restored.
'What's put you back to your jolly self?'
He thrust the Gauisus Diripio at her. 'This! This is what's wrong. This! Not the T.A.R.D.I.S!' He let out a sigh of relief.
'Well, that's good but there's still something wrong isn't there? I mean this stuff combined with the weird time difference between the place and the technology and the heat...well, it's just so...weird.' Fred made a face.
'Yep! But it'll be fun to find out!' He unwrapped the Gauisus Diripio and popped it into his mouth, happily chewing away.
'Doctor!' Fred cried, wide eyed. 'What the hell are you doing?! We have no idea what it is!'
He shrugged. 'All the more reason to try it! Go on then.' He gestured to her.
Fred unwrapped it, eyed it cautiously before pushing into her mouth with a wince. Her wince soon disappeared when the flavour hit her taste buds. It was delicious! The intense flavour of freshly picked raspberries filled Fred's mouth as though she had just stuffed a handful in. The flavour reached around every corner, every crevice of her mouth before disappearing as soon as it came. Fred was left with tasteless gum. She looked across at the Doctor who was grinning.
'That was amazing!' she said to him with a grin. 'No wonder people keep buying them.'
'I take it that's the point.' He replied, studying the wrapper before calling over the waitress. 'Hi. Do you know where the nearest town is?'
'Sure. It's up there.' She gestured out of the window at the sandy plains. 'Up there for about 14 miles.'
'Ah. Know any way we can get there?'
'There's a bus in ten minutes. Stops right outside here.' She nodded to the door and left again. The Doctor turned to Fred, grinning.
'Right then! We've got ourselves a little mission. Let's go and see what the planet's leaders are up to!'
'Wow. Hang on. A bus?'
Part 2 coming up soon...