The Doctor was always very careful when he did this sort of thing. It wasn't the first time he'd had to splice something, but he'd had help, then. Romana had been with him. She hadn't particularly approved, given that it was his idea and he didn't exactly have all the necessary odds and ends that the Time Lords— But he'd always thought she'd found his antics endearing enough, so she'd humoured him. Of course, back then, he hadn't had quite so much hanging over his head. That had just been a small thing. He'd only made what she'd deemed a foolish promise, that's all. And that was the only way he could carry it out. Next to this, it was hardly splicing at all. He'd just fit two tiny strands back together, two threads that would have, in the future, eventually converged anyway. Which was probably why Romana had let him do it. But he could remember her smile, when she saw the young girl to whom he'd made the promise find—
Still. He'd found a way to go about the splicing by himself, this time. Didn't matter that it wasn't supposed to be possible. It just came down to a bit of complex maths, that's all. The sort of calculations even Adric would have had a time doing. And he'd even claimed to figure out a way to get back through E-Space, and, from the brief glance he'd spared the work, the Doctor judged that it could very well have been possible. Only, he'd never gotten a chance to find out.
He wished that that had simply been because Adric had changed his mind about going home. Not—
But he couldn't lose focus. No, focus was essential. He had to pick out precisely the right strands and tie them together without gnarling things up and jumbling events together when they weren't supposed to be jumbled. He had to take hold of history, find where it had split apart, and lock it back together. He'd have to discard what changes he could, but most would stay. Even if he didn't particularly want them to.
Some things couldn't be changed.
Too much depended on them.
No matter how horrible they were.
Putting the two parallels together was difficult, yes, but it wasn't the hardest thing he had to do. He had more trouble with keeping them there. He had done what he could, mentally, back at Project Quantum Leap, to prepare for the splicing. He knew his other self had intended to do it, but he hadn't been able to take the risk that it hadn't gotten done, for whatever reason. And it was just as well he had done it, because his other self certainly didn't need to expend his energy in what was not only a dangerous but, considering his state, also a downright deadly manoeuvre.
Not that he'd had time to check it over, make sure he'd done everything properly. That meant that his other self had managed to speak with Sam shortly after they'd been cut off, and that the people at the Project had managed to sync up a new handlink and establish a lock on Sam shortly thereafter. He'd offered to help, but had been effectively refused, which is why he'd left it to his other self to bring up the idea of leaping. Not that it had taken long at all. He'd been taken from the Waiting Room and promptly sent to the quantum accelerator, almost before he'd made it back from examining the parallel. Thankfully he had. Considering what he was doing now, venturing out over the temporal planes, well…. Suffice to say that the leaping process wouldn't have been successful. At all.
But he had had an awful headache upon settling on the other parallel, one that was much worse than anything he could put down to simply being sent through the Vortex without a time capsule. He'd put it down to passing through the parallels, but in all honesty, he wasn't so sure it was as simple as that, especially since the headache had been at least ten times worse than the one he'd had upon finding himself in the Waiting Room. Not that he'd have Sam believe any differently. Sam had been worried as it was. The way he'd looked at him—it made him think that his counterpart must have gotten worse in the brief time after they'd spoken.
A quick deterioration never boded well.
And if the headache hadn't simply been from jumping parallels, then perhaps he hadn't imagined that grating, earlier, back when he was being held in isolation.
He couldn't dwell on that. Especially not now. Deliberately, the Doctor finished weaving the parallels together, trimming off a few extraneous events that were not meant to happen, yet had been significant enough to send out an offshoot of the main timeline. He never particularly liked that part of the splicing process, picking what was important and what was not, what to keep and what to trim. But, if nothing else, he needed the energy to use as a sealant, and he couldn't afford to cut corners.
He supposed it wasn't unlike pruning a tree in that aspect. He just needed to get about a quarter of it trimmed, and the rest would flourish.
Or at least it should.
But necessity didn't make the choice easier. He had to condemn about five percent more of those offshoots to the Void. Picking off the little ones was easy, but the larger ones, the ones that looked like they might try to gain enough to split off into a viable parallel world—picking which of those to cut was difficult. He examined them as closely as he could, but he still had only so much time.
That was more evident here, when he looked at everything this way. He had enough trouble trying to keep the ends from fraying, the deterioration from beginning, working its way backwards faster than he could mend it. He had to work quickly, methodically, and efficiently. It was as simple as that.
Because if he made a mistake, he wouldn't be around to fix it.
No one would, not when he was this far along.
The weak part of the timeline, the original terminating parallel, the one that had become a Type LXXVI, would terminate, destroying crucial parts of the stronger part of the timeline, and its existence would, well, end.
And a piece of the patchwork fabric that represented this universe, this world, would unravel, become undone at the seams, and fall apart, and the Void would move in to fill the gaps between the parallel worlds.
Something he would get to watch before he died, along with everyone else.
Of course, last time he'd thought that he'd be left watching all the death and destruction before his own time inevitably came, he'd still survived. It was bitter, but it was survival. He'd hated it, but now that he had it, he didn't want to give it up so easily.
The Doctor checked over the timeline once again, drawing on the bits and pieces he had of his other self, making sure everything was fitting together properly, precisely as it should. He looked closely, from every angle, searching for any sign of—
There. One little fraying thread, out of place but not something he could afford to trim. It looked too important to risk pulling out or cutting off. He'd have to leave it. It was the only anomaly he could find, which was good, except that since he'd found it at all, it meant that something was wrong. Well, possibly wrong. He could be very lucky, and it could just be a good anomaly for once.
But if it wasn't, it wasn't the sort of thing that he could fix here. That needed a more delicate hand, whatever it was. He didn't want to look too closely to find out precisely what it was. He wasn't entirely sure he wanted to know. He had a feeling that he did. And he wanted to be wrong. He just couldn't bring himself to check to be sure of that. He'd keep his hopes up, and after he'd checked in on Sam, he'd go back. He'd check up on himself. He'd see whether he was right, or whether he was wrong, and if he was too late or not.
He wouldn't have a chance if he didn't start sealing the parallels together now, though, cementing events and outcomes into their proper places once again. The Doctor took the energy he'd gathered and slowly started infusing it into the timeline, watching it fill the cracks and smooth over the rough spots. No turning back now. What's done was done. It was weaker than it had been originally, yes, and he'd have to watch it even more carefully now to make sure that history didn't change, because too large a change could crack it.
And he could only patch the same spot so many times before something changed that he couldn't fix.
And the consequences of that….
He'd deal with that if it came to it. Perhaps by then he would have come up with a brilliant idea to fix it all. And, if not, he'd just have to wing it, executing whatever brilliant idea came into his head on the spot.
But however well he worked under pressure, he would prefer to do without facing those particular trying times. That would be a nasty set of circumstances to find himself in, no doubt about it.
The Doctor could hardly believe he'd managed it, but he had. In his brilliantly clever way, he'd managed it. Time was stable again. He wasn't racing the clock any more, not when it came to the time until the parallel terminated. No need for the constant conversions in his head, trying to find out if he was running out of time—he'd stitched it up, good and proper. And it was holding. The first few minutes were crucial, and they'd passed without cause for alarm.
The Doctor grinned. He loved it when it all worked out.
He could always just slip back and check, just to be certain. A quick trip, just to see that everything was well, that he hadn't nixed anything he shouldn't have during the splicing process. It certainly wouldn't do any harm.
And it might serve as a distraction about the knot he'd found, that he hadn't been able to undo, that knobbly little anomaly that poked out to defy the smoothed surface of which it was part.
Besides, he'd heard that Sam had told Martha about Project Quantum Leap, and, knowing Martha, everything would make sense at the time, but she'd have a million, billion questions later. Unless that just occurred when he tried to explain things to her, but he was fairly sure it wasn't. And if not, well, he was sure she'd appreciate getting a bit more insight into Sam, curious as she was. It might help her understand how much the little, unimportant things were, well, actually really important. Because localized changes, they might not have an impact on the big picture, but collectively they could certainly pack a punch. And they helped. Or they hurt. The change doesn't go unnoticed, necessarily, but it is often ignored anyhow, lost in all the other events, and only the people closest to it feel its effects. And then it can spread, the helping or the hurting, to influence so much more.
Granted, Sam had brushed up against things that his companions would hardly classify as 'localized events'—notably things such as JFK's assassination, a moment that he remembered clearly, even if he hadn't been in quite the right state of mind to pursue what he'd felt at the time, judging it as part of... Well, he'd judged it as part of the aftermath, if he was perfectly honest. He'd actively sought out disasters in those days. But after that shift he'd felt, where time had reorganized itself, he'd…. Well, he'd realized he could hardly stand seeing much more death and disaster and destruction, but he hadn't stopped seeking it out, oh no. He'd still thought if he exhausted himself, he could justify collapsing into those blissful states where he didn't remember everything that had happened. He'd just…tried to make sure it didn't touch so many people.
That's why he'd convinced that family, the Daniels, not to board the ship, detaining them past the departure time. Nice family, they were. But they were only one of many, and he couldn't save them all.
Still. A quick visit to October 6, 1957, was in order. At St. Louis, just outside a certain recording studio. He could get a copy of the TV show for Martha to watch. He'd have to tell her the story behind it, of course. He knew it after reading about Sam's leap, so that wouldn't be a problem. And it was a great example of human ingenuity, again, coupled with proof of their crippling limitations which, naturally, displayed the superiority of the TARDIS—something of which he could remind Martha the next time she started complaining about the roughness of their flights, of course. Although he had to admit, she was perhaps a teensy bit justified after the last landing, but they'd hit turbulence, whether she believed him or not.
It didn't take him long to get there. Psychic paper in hand, the Doctor moseyed inside. A boy—well, young man—with thick-rimmed glasses and an argyle vest stopped him, politely asking who he was and what he was doing, but the Doctor didn't bother letting him finish. "John Smith," he said, displaying his psychic paper. "Safety inspector." He nodded towards one of the light stands. "Can you tell me the last time that was checked? Looks a bit rickety to me."
The young man blinked at him. "Uh, um, no, I'm sorry, sir. I'll find out right away. I'll—"
"No matter," the Doctor interrupted. "I'll check it now. You just run along and do whatever you were doing. Don't mind me."
"Yes, sir. I will, sir." But he stood there a moment longer, and the Doctor raised his eyebrows at him, prompting him to continue. "I'm sorry, sir, but we weren't advised—"
"Surprise inspection," the Doctor said, and left it at that. He made a show of checking the light stand and moving on, pretending to scrutinize his surroundings. Actually, it fascinated him. He enjoyed a good film, a nice program on the telly, now and then. Gave him a bit of a break, though they were no better at keeping him in suspense than most of the books he read. Still, the evolution of it was astounding, all things considered.
No one had questioned him after he'd spoken to the young man, although they kept shooting glances in his direction. He paid them no mind, electing instead to pretend he had free run of the place and wandered over to where they were actually filming the episode of Time Patrol. He kept to the shadows, not sure when Al would turn up, and listened intently as Moe Stein, in the guise of Captain Galaxy, spoke of the future being a brighter place. And—oh, yes, it was Sam, right there, bumbling along, ignoring the director's frantic gestures to read the cue card. Good ol' Sam.
He cornered the man he'd pegged as the director after the filming. "Why were you so upset by that?" he asked, nodding to the now-empty stage.
"I don't know who you are," the man started, "but I don't have time for this."
"Inspector John Smith," the Doctor said, flashing his psychic paper again. "Here to…inspect things." The man frowned at the psychic paper and reached for it. The Doctor snapped it shut and pocketed it. "But, well, suppose you knew that," he continued. "Still, if you've time enough to talk to me about who I am, you've time enough to answer my question." When the man didn't respond immediately, the Doctor added, "Oh, come on, it's not that hard. Just a simple one, really."
"Moe Stein has to learn to follow the script," the man snapped.
"What, and encourage all that pre-emptive violence? We've got to blast them before they blast us? Go on like that and you'll find yourselves in the middle of a nuclear war before you can even blink." Not that that was going to happen any time soon, but the director didn't know that.
He also didn't believe it, or didn't care. "I don't have time to discuss it."
"Well, I will still need to get a copy of your show to analyze. And maybe the next one, just to compare. Yes, that will do. I'll—"
"I'm not permitting you to take anything," the director snarled. Considering balding, bespectacled men were sometimes characterized as calm and almost grandfatherly, this man certainly did not fit the bill.
The Doctor desperately tried to remember the man's name. Dan? Bill? Steve? It was a simple name, just one syllable…. "Ben Harris," the Doctor started, pleased that he'd gotten it right, judging by the look on the man's face, "I have authority, and I can use it, and, in fact, I am using it, right now, to tell you to get me a copy of the episode you filmed today, and the next one, for analysis. I will send you the results when I'm finished."
"Analysis for what?" Ben Harris demanded.
"Oh, bit of everything. Can't tell you, can I? I just want to see if you're going to try to change anything in your next episode. Because even if you don't do it intentionally, if you're nervous about something, you'll do it unintentionally, and then I'll know, clear as day."
He was suspicious, of course. But the Doctor was used to that sort of reception. "Everything I need to know," he replied simply. "Good writing, bad, acting, set, blocking, the lot of it. And everything in between those lines."
"The writing," came the snippy reply, "happens to be excellent."
"Well, I'm sure anyone as biased as you would say so," the Doctor agreed amiably, "but I'm afraid I'll have to decide for myself."
"Why not check the time?" the Doctor suggested. "You've got a Mr. Scrubo commercial to air in a minute or two, don't you? And I don't see your star." Sure enough, that got rid of him. The Doctor grinned. Worked every time. Now he could have a short chat with Moe Stein, whom he'd been curious about since reading the file of this leap on record at the Project.
The Doctor knocked on the door to the dressing room. When he didn't receive an answer, he called, "Moe Stein? May I speak with you for a moment?" Better not say he was the Doctor just yet, not until he had a chance to defend himself. He'd never get a word in if Moe thought he was there to assess him, perhaps in place of Dr. Sandler. If he remembered correctly, he'd met Moe Stein before, once, just briefly—but the encounter wasn't one Moe Stein would recall, and if he did, well, he wouldn't recognize the Doctor for who he was. The Doctor had simply congratulated him on his excellent performance in— "I have to confess," the Doctor added, still speaking to a silent room behind the closed door, "that I've been a bit of a fan of yours since I saw your performance in the Scottish play. It was positively brilliant."
The door creaked open, and Moe Stein looked him up and down. "That was a long time ago," was all he said.
The Doctor smiled. "Yes. But I still remember it. May I come in?"
"Just to have a bit of a chat," the Doctor replied. "Before you sneak off home, I mean. It won't be long." Moe let him in, and the Doctor grinned. "Thank you. Now, I'm curious, and if you don't mind my asking, where did you come up with your idea for your time machine? Or even," he added, picking up the gyrograph that was part of Captain Galaxy's costume, "the design for this?"
"Did Irene send you?" Moe demanded, looking like he was about to clam up and refuse to say another word. "Are you another one of those doctors?"
"I'm the Doctor, yes, but I'm not one of those doctors," the Doctor admitted. "I'm genuinely curious. Easy question first, then. Did you come up with this design yourself?" He held up the gyrograph again.
"No," Moe replied, still looking as if he had no idea what to make of the sudden interrogation, "but I travelled a lot in my day, and I read whenever I had the time—all sorts of odds and ends, I'd read. There was one story that caught my eye, back in 1945. Actually, one of my friends from Crown Point, Indiana, told me the story. It wasn't so strange on the surface, but Fred, he'd been a good friend of Tom Jarrett's father. He knew that boy hadn't even told a lie in his life, aside from those little fibs everyone finds themselves telling. But you don't want to listen to an old man's ramblings. You youngins are all impatient, so I won't make you suffer through all the details. You see, Tom had something in 1945 when he came back from overseas. But he'd claimed he'd never laid eyes on it before in his life, but here was everyone telling him he'd said it was some top secret, newfangled invention of the army. A prototype for something; can't remember what, if he'd ever said. It was a colourful thing, bright blocks of colour all put together. No one could make head or tail of it, so they eventually sent it away, and I don't know what happened to it after that. Archived somewhere, I expect, if it wasn't just thrown out. But they called it the Crown Point Mystery Object, just to try to get a bit of tourism, once they'd established that it hadn't been a top secret project of the army. Though the army was mighty interested in it anyhow. If anyone took it, it'd've been them."
"Is that so?" The Doctor had listened without interruption, wanting to know how much Moe would tell. "Interesting. Explains something. I'm assuming they had an article with a picture, then?"
Moe nodded. "Got it in my scrapbook back at my place. Looks about the same, except those prop people insisted on adding that spinning bit on the top. For show, they said."
"Right." The Doctor glanced at the clippings on the wall and then back at Moe. "And how did you figure out your idea for time travel? What's your theory?" He knew very well what the theory was, of course, but he wanted to know how Moe Stein had figured it out. Was it really just a coincidence? According to the records, Moe had nearly succeeded. He'd nearly leaped. Frankly, the Doctor was glad he hadn't, because he had a feeling that Moe wouldn't have managed to take care of quite as many variables as Sam had, and the outcome would have been…rather unpleasant.
"I studied it a long time," Moe answered. "And I think I finally figured it out." He went on to explain about the string, and tying its ends, and starting at the beginning.
No crumpling up of the ball, the Doctor noted. But then, Sam hadn't told him that yet. Moe did start to go on about his time machine, and he even offered to show it to him, and the Doctor thought about accepting, but he realized he couldn't. If he took up too much of Moe's time, things wouldn't work out like they ought to for Sam. Shame, that. He would've liked to have seen it.
"Tell me, Doctor—why are you so interested in an old man's experiments?"
The Doctor smiled at him. "Because they're wonderful," he responded simply. He stood up then, adding, "But I'd best not keep you. Thank you. I'd wondered what had happened to that handlink after I'd read about it, but I hadn't had the time to check. Now I don't need to. But," the Doctor added, trying to distract Moe from what he'd just blabbered on about, "you just remember, through this whole mess with your daughter wanting to get you institutionalized, why you started in the first place. Why it's all so important. And when the time's right, tell her that. She'll understand." He left the room before Moe could ask any more questions.
He didn't return to the studio until after it was nearly over. He watched the end of the latest episode being filmed, absently picking the bandage off his hand, which had healed, and listened as Captain Galaxy read one final letter. Knowing Al was there for that, he kept well back, but he watched Sam's face, hidden under Kenny Sharp's aura, for the moment the letter was opened and realization struck as Moe began explaining the string theory of time travel to little Sam Beckett of Elkridge, Indiana. He watched carefully as Sam leaped out, silently congratulating the people at Project Quantum Leap for such a seamless exchange. He doubted anyone else had noticed. Even if they'd been looking right at Sam, they probably wouldn't have noticed unless they knew precisely what to look for.
"Do you have the footage I requested?" the Doctor asked afterwards, coming up to Ben Harris.
The man jumped, spinning around to face him. "How did you get in here?" he demanded. "I left precise orders that you were not to be—"
"I can be persuasive," the Doctor interrupted. "And stubborn. I'm not leaving until I have copies of the two episodes that I requested for my analysis. I'll be sure to send you a full report when I'm through."
"I am not about to—"
"No? Then I suppose I'll have to find someone who will. Bear that in mind, Mr. Harris, when you have to face up to your superiors and have to tell them that you refused to cooperate."
"If you think for one moment that I'm going to—"
"See, without your Captain Galaxy," the Doctor continued, talking over Ben Harris's protests, "it's going to be a bit questionable as to whether they're going to even think about letting you finish up this season and stay on the air, or if they're just going to pull the plug on you now. And without a show to write for, Mr. Harris, how valuable do you think you'll be? Now, if I had a few samples of your work, I could pinpoint your attributes and showcase them for you. You know, to silence those who'll say that the children's show was pulled because of the horrible writing. Because that sort of talk always persists, even if there's evidence to the contrary. Something you're more than aware of, I'm sure."
The Doctor could hardly keep from grinning as he faced the daggers Ben Harris was glaring at him. "Very well," the writer finally spat. "I'll see to it that you get what you need."
"Now, if you would," the Doctor said. "I'm in a bit of a rush." He wasn't, really, not anymore, or at least not terribly, but he wasn't about to give the man in front of him a chance to change his mind…or make some phone calls.
The Doctor still had a rather lengthy wait—it had gotten to the point where he'd fished a cricket ball out of his pocket and began playing with it. He hadn't known that that was in his pocket until he'd gone looking, but apparently some time in the future he thought he'd have need of a cricket ball, so he'd placed one in his pocket. He doubted that his future self had placed it in his pocket with the eventual intention of combating boredom, but he resolved to track it down and put it in his own pocket, anyhow. He was still a good shot, and he never knew when he'd be in need of it. Of course, he used that as an excuse for nearly everything else he carried in his pockets, the odds and ends that tended to accumulate through his almost mindless picking up and pocketing of every day items—to the point where, he was sure, one of his companions would jokingly call him a kleptomaniac. But he rarely picked up anything that was of value to anyone else, so that wasn't really stealing, was it, if no one wanted it?
"Thank you," the Doctor said when he was at last presented with the material he'd requested. "And these are the two episodes which I asked for? Recent work is best. And—oh, what's this?" he asked, pulling at a wad of papers and flipping through them.
"The original script," came the scathing reply, "so that you know what was said at the end wasn't what I wrote."
"Oh, but you don't discourage improvisation, do you?" the Doctor asked.
Ben Harris evidently recalled the conversation he'd had with the Doctor the first time he'd met him. "You wanted to know the quality of my writing," he snapped. "That's the only way you're going to get it. By going by the original script."
"And if I'm of the opinion that people would be more accepting of the improvised changes?"
Apparently that question wasn't going to be dignified with an answer. "I'll expect your report by Monday."
"Oh, but you can't rush these things," the Doctor cautioned. "You won't like it at all if it's rushed." He, of course, had no intention of writing up any report. Why waste his time doing paperwork when there were so many other things in the universe he could be doing? "In fact, it may be quite a wait, when you consider how long the screening process will take after the initial analysis, and—" The Doctor stopped. "Well, I expect you know the process, don't you, and all the red tape that follows?"
Ben Harris threw up his hands, frustrated. "Give me your contact information."
"Can't do that, sorry," the Doctor said. "And, before you ask, I'm not affiliated with any company. Bit of a freelancer."
"Thanks anyhow," the Doctor interrupted, sensing he'd better get out of there before the tapes were confiscated. And he managed it, too, leaving the dumbfounded man behind as he slipped away to the TARDIS, cargo in hand. He figured he'd have to drop it off at an earlier time, sneak it into his TARDIS when no one else, himself included, was looking. He couldn't go too far back, or he'd risk finding it too early, so his best bet was to nip in and hide it in one of the TARDIS roundels shortly after he'd landed near those standing stones in Merivale in the first place. He'd been too preoccupied with the fact that a couple of Tryl'c'ark were causing trouble, not to mention the rough landing and Martha's complaints and his realization that they weren't at the Gate of Alguarzi like he'd expected, to sense himself in the area.
It was his best bet, anyway.
It didn't take him long. He stayed far enough back from the route they'd taken chasing after the Tryl'c'ark so that he wouldn't be noticed, and it only took a minute or two to nip into the TARDIS, explain the situation to her, and hide his cargo. Martha would appreciate it, he was sure. And he'd been right in his assessment of the splicing; it had worked, and it would hold. But he hadn't really expected to find out about the handlink that Al Calavicci had left in 1945. That was an added bonus. He'd only wanted to speak to Moe Stein about his time travel experiment, since he hadn't had any indication that he'd be pursuing that the first time he'd seen him, however many regenerations ago that was now, and in the end the details had remained a mystery. He didn't mind, really. Well, not too much.
The Doctor slipped out of his TARDIS and back to his counterpart's TARDIS. He wasn't completely finished, not yet. He still needed to check on his future self, to see how he'd held up after the leap. He'd insisted that he would be fine, but the Doctor wasn't so sure. His other self had been getting glimpses of knowledge through the cracks the splintering had opened, and that was never a good sign. But he'd insisted that he was stable enough to leap. And the Doctor hadn't exactly had time to argue, because by the time his other self had brought it up, the time he had before the circuits overloaded on the handlink was limited. Actually, that entire portion of the conversation had only lasted about thirty seconds. Well, twenty-seven. And he could talk quickly, yes, but that still hadn't been enough time to have a proper argument, especially against himself, when he knew all the tricks he was inclined to use in arguments.
And he was the one at the disadvantage, being younger, although it wasn't as noticeable as when he was arguing with himself from a past regeneration.
Still. Before he could do that, before he could find out how things went, he'd have to check in on Sam. A few fine adjustments to the coordinates and a far smoother landing than the first time he'd landed there later, the Doctor ended up just slightly to the left of where he'd taken off. If he'd calculated correctly, he'd only been gone two minutes from Sam's perspective. And, well, if he'd miscalculated, he wouldn't be far off. Sam was still there, after all, judging by the scanner. Grinning, the Doctor stuck his head out the door of the TARDIS and looked at Sam. "Well?" he asked, the grin spreading even further across his face. "What's my time?"
A/N: So, I hope everyone enjoyed this story and that you will take the time to tell me your thoughts on it. A nice little expansion on that hidden story in Splintering, I think, for you now know why I didn't just write it into that story—it wasn't a story I could tell in a chapter or two, although I will admit it got a little out of hand, as I'd never actually intended, when I'd been thinking over how to make this work, to have the Doctor go back to Alia's first leap. Ah, well; I think it worked out just fine. Also, I'd like to acknowledge Questfan and Elvaro and thank them profusely for their kind reviews; I always appreciate comments and suggestions (even if I do choose to ignore the latter on occasion….). Thanks for reading.