Author: MacGateFan and StrangeBlaze (you can find her here as well)
Disclaimers: Nope, not mine.
After their madcap adventure with Agatha Christie, Donna had just finished changing into more modern clothes. Suddenly, she felt a shudder run throughout the TARDIS. She muttered something about inept Time Lords as she ran back to the console room.
"What in the bloody hell was that?"
Just as the Doctor was about to reply, the ship shuddered again and if Donna hadn't been holding onto the railing, she would have been flung to the floor. "The TARDIS is trying to draw extra energy from the vortex."
"But why?" she replied, running to the console and holding on for dear life.
"Don't ask me stupid questions; I don t know." He paused, looking at her. "Well, not yet anyway."
"What're you just standing there for? Don't you think you should be pushing buttons on the console?"
The Doctor merely grinned at her and began running around again. He pushed, pulled, nudged, whirled, and spun various knobs on the console. "Oh my."
"Forgot the shield again. Hold on because it s only going to get bumpier!"
Donna watched as the Doctor punched in a sequence of numbers. She swore the TARDIS was flipping all over the place. She screamed and held on tightly to the console.
Suddenly the console began to spark and bolt of electricity flew from it, striking the Doctor. He flew back ten feet and slammed into the wall. "Don-na!" he gasped. "Type in the last sequence of numbers."
"What? You want me to"
"Yes! I showed you how. You know it. Do it or we re going to cause a supernova!"
Donna shakily moved towards the keypad and took a deep breath, trying to remember the numbers. When she finally did, she typed them in. The cloister bell shut off and the vortex stabilized.
"Ha! Look at that Time Boy!" She turned to find the Doctor lying with his eyes closed and not moving. Donna rushed to his side. "Doctor! Doctor, can you hear me?"
"Doctor! Doctor, can you hear me?"
"Uhh," the Doctor groaned as he regained consciousness. He sat up slowly, carefully, to avoid the dizziness that was threatening to overwhelm him.
"Doctor!" A voice called again, from another room in the TARDIS.
"Yes, Donna, I can hear you! Can you keep your voice down? My head's killing me."
"Fine, you don't have to snap about it. But who's Donna?" The voice, accompanied by its owner, a pretty young girl with brown hair, wearing a brown bomber jacket and plenty of attitude, entered the console room. She saw the Doctor, lying on the floor, and did a double take. "Now that you mention it, who the hell are you?"
The Doctor started in surprise, then smiled broadly. "Dorothy McShane!"
"Oy! Shutter that, skinny. The name's Ace. Who are you and what have you done with the Doctor?"
The Doctor managed, with some effort, to get to his feet. "I am the Doctor," he said. He attempted to take a step and pitched forward, nearly falling headlong into his former companion's arms.
"Be careful!" Ace admonished. "My, you have had a shock, haven't you? Come, sit down." She put an arm around his narrow waist and helped lower him gingerly into the captain's chair.
"Thank you," he said.
"Welcome. Now, what did you mean when you said you re the Doctor? Have you regenerated? You said we were going to Gallifrey, so I left the room to get my jumper. I was gone ten minutes and you changed your face?"
"No, no, Ace," the Doctor said, with a laugh. "I haven't regenerated. Well, I have, actually, three or four times since I saw you last. But not just now. At least, I don t think so; I did get a nasty shock from the console, but I haven t seen a mirror. What do I look like?"
Ace was staring at him, completely dumbfounded at the barrage of words pouring from his mouth. "A mad, skinny rooster,"she replied.
"Rooster? Oh, yes, you mean the hair. Love my hair, nice and thick, isn't it? Last go round I had almost none and my ears stuck out something dreadful. I'm used to a nice, thick mop. It's rather fashionable, don t you think? Certainly better than that awful hat I wore when I was with you." He reached up to touch his hair and realized that it was already standing on end and sticking out in more directions even than usual. Oh, must have been the sparks.
"He's even more mad than mine," Ace said quietly, almost to herself.
"Possibly. Anyway, lovely Ace, I need to figure out why I m here instead of where I should be, and how to get back there. I've left Donna alone in the TARDIS and oh dear..."
"What s wrong?"
"If I'm here, it means Donna's got to fly the TARDIS. This could be bad news. I've seen the way she drives."
Ace rolled her eyes. "Well, come on then, stop your gabbing and let's get you back. This Donna must be a pretty brave lass to put up with your yammering about all the time."
The Doctor stepped toward the console and pushed some buttons. He entered a few coordinates and waited, but nothing happened.
"Give me a minute."
"just entered the wrong numbers."
"What? No I didn't," the Doctor protested.
"Yes, you did. Here." Ace stepped in front of him and entered an entirely different sequence of numbers into the computer. The console began to flash and a great whooshing sound began. Ace crossed her arms and grinned smugly at the Doctor.
The Doctor stepped back and stared at her for a moment, incredulously, then broke out into a broad grin. "Oh, you are brilliant!"
Ace shrugged. "Just another day."
"No, you are. I never told you enough. I've always regretted that. I regret that I never said a lot of things."
"Why, where am I, in the future? Can't you tell me then?"
The Doctor looked away. "You know I can t tell you that."
She swallowed. "I know."
He reached over and squeezed her hand, briefly. She squeezed back and smiled at him. She was not a hugger, his Ace.
Suddenly, a red emergency light started flashing, and a warning buzzer blared in their ears. "We've destabilized!" The Doctor shouted. "The shields are still down!"
He ran to the other side of the console and pulled a lever, but the sound did not stop. The TARDIS shook as if it were being blasted apart. Ace screamed something but the Doctor did not hear what she said. Another impact came and tossed them both bodily across the deck, amongst the flying equipment and tools.
"Ace!" the Doctor shouted. "I'm sorry!"
He never knew if she heard him, because a final collision hit the console and knocked him off his feet and headfirst into the wall, sending him into the dark of unconsciousness again.
The Doctor woke up again, head pounding. He sat up from the wall when he heard footsteps coming towards the console room. The Doctor blinked in surprise when the person connected to the feet entered.
"Who are you?" she asked. She seemed cautious and did not step closer to him. He also noted a hint of sadness in her eyes.
The Doctor had to smile as he stood up. He held onto the wall as a wave of dizziness washed over him. Once it stopped, he stood tall. "Nyssa."
The young woman seemed utterly confused and after what they had been through she just didn't have the strength to deal with strangers and possible enemies. "How did you get in here and how do you know who I am?"
"I'm the Doctor."
"No," she said with a shake of her head. "The Doctor is in his room."
The Doctor looked around at the smaller confines of the TARDIS. It had been rather intimate with his three companions from his fifth regeneration. It made them feel much closer to one another.
Of course too much closeness seemed to get him and Adric into fits of arguments about E-Space and calculations. Adric. Why was he suddenly thinking of the boy? Not that he didn't but something about the way Nyssa s eyes seemed haunted
He swallowed and nearly swayed from the movement. Nyssa immediately rushed to his side suddenly realizing that he was whom he said. "Doctor? But how did this happen?"
"Nyssa, who else is with you?"
"In the TARDIS. Who else is traveling with you? Turlough? Tegan?"
He didn't even want to say Adric's name aloud for fear it would reveal the true point in time he was in.
Nyssa took a deep breath. "Just Tegan."
"Tegan." I was right.
"Doctor?" He knew Adric had died recently.
"How long has it been since..."
"Only a few days," she replied. "We were going back to Earth to take some time. You and Tegan... We all were are pretty upset."
The Doctor s head was swimming as all the memories and emotions filled him: the Cybermen, Adric's computations, going back to E-Space, and his math badge. He would have sunk back to the floor in a heap if Nyssa hadn't guided him.
"You're channeling the Doctor's emotions right now, aren't you?" she asked. At his nod, she continued. "You wouldn't allow Tegan or me with you. Why not? Why did you go through that alone?"
"I was scared. I was scared that the two of you would just want to leave after everything that happened. I am supposed to protect you all. If I can't do that then who?"
Nyssa shook her head. "We all protect each other, Doctor. Isn't that what Adric did as well? Yes I miss him as much as you, but we cannot allow his death to be in vain, can we?"
"No," he replied. "Besides Adric wouldn't be very happy if he saw us weeping like a bunch of Baholian banshees."
"No he wouldn't," Nyssa said with a laugh.
Before either could say another word, the console went crazy beeping and screaming about a collision. The Doctor rushed towards it. That was a horrible idea as suddenly another bolt of electricity erupted from it and slammed into him.
As he lost consciousness for a third time, he muttered to himself, "Not again."
He awoke some time later to the steady hum of the TARDIS, a calming, reassuring sound that did much to soothe the throbbing pain in his head. There was a bit of smoke in the air, and an odd metallic smell, but at least it was quiet. He rested there on the floor for a moment, making a mental note to thank Donna for the coat she had placed under his head. A while later he sat up with a groan, slowly massaging the pain out of his temples.
"Feeling better?" A light, cheery voice asked, from somewhere to his right.
It was a good thing he had two hearts, because he was pretty sure that one of them stopped just then. His eyes flew open, only to confirm what that voice had already told him: it was not Donna who had placed the coat beneath his head; he was not even in the comforting familiarity of his own coral-bedecked TARDIS. Instead, his weary, injured eyes revealed a bright room devoid of any color, its stark whiteness shattered only by the glowing lights of the console in the middle of the room.
"Sir?" the girl's voice asked again, uncertainly. She came around the side of the captain s chair and stood in front of him, her big eyes full of concern. She looked so young, with her dark hair cut short, dressed in a blouse and plaid skirt, kneading her hands nervously as she stared at him.
"Susan," he whispered.
"Yes, I am," she said, her brow furrowing in confusion. "But who are you?"
"I-I'm a friend."
"Oh, do you know my grandfather?" she asked.
"He'll know me, someday," the Doctor said, quietly.
"I shall go and get him," the girl said. "He's sleeping."
"No, no, don't do that," the Doctor said, as he began to rise to his feet. "Don't disturb him. I think I'll be going soon."
"How did you get here in the first place?" Susan asked.
"I'm not sure," the Doctor replied. He stretched as he stood, gingerly making his way to the computer.
"What are you doing?" Susan asked.
"Has this been acting strangely today?" the Doctor said.
"A bit, yes. An alarm has been sounding, off and on, and there have been lots of lights. Grandfather tried reversing the polarity, but it didn't seem to work. How did you know?"
The Doctor flipped a lever and punched in some numbers on the computer. Though the TARDIS had evolved a bit over the years, the controls were fundamentally the same, so he had no problem remembering which buttons to push.
"Aah," he exclaimed. "He left the shields down! That's the problem!"
"Oh no!" Susan said, her hands to her mouth.
"Apparently you went through the path of a comet with your shields down and some bits of cosmic dust it had picked up from a ruined spaceship made their way into the TARDIS navigation systems. It shorted out and caused a ripple down through time, which has caused me no end of trouble."
"Can you fix it?"
"Oh yes, just pull that lever no, that one and I'll hit this right here, and Bob's your uncle."
All of the lights on the console stopped flashing, and at last even the smoke dissipated, leaving only the steady, comforting hum of the machinery.
"Oh, you did it!" Susan said. She laughed and clapped her hands, then stepped forward and threw her arms around his neck.
The Doctor took a step backward. For a moment it was too much too much that he was seeing her again, speaking, hearing her voice, after such a long time, alive, and now she was touching him, hugging him, but then all of that was gone in a rush and he flung his arms around her back and crushed her to his chest, laughing out loud as he spun her around.
"Oh my!" she said, when he let her go. "I feel a bit faint. Who are you? How did you get in the TARDIS? Are you a Time Lord?"
I m but he could not say it. He could not tell her who he really was, not knowing what would happen later. He swallowed his pride and the lump in his throat, and said, "I'm someone who cares for you and your grandfather very much."
Susan looked at him out of the corner of her eye, and said, "Well, whoever you are, thank you for helping us."
"You're welcome, my dear," the Doctor said. "Now, I need you to do something to help me."
"Me? What can I do?"
"Hit me in the head."
"What? I can t do that!"
"Course you can! Just give me a big old wallop! Haul off and smack me a good one! Let go and..."
"I couldn't possibly! Susan cried. Grandfather would be so upset with me."
"Oh, trust me, he would approve," the Doctor said. "It's all right, really; you won't hurt me. Just find something and knock me out. It's the only way."
"The only way to what?"
"To get rid of me, of course. I can't stay here forever that would be awkward, to say the least."
"You are an odd one, aren't you? If I didn't know better, I'd say you were related to Grandfather," Susan said, with a disapproving eye, but she turned away to pick up a book that had been sitting on the chair behind her. "All right, I'll do it."
"Thank you," the Doctor said. "I'm ready. You can do it. You are stronger than you think, Susan. I always knew it. Be good to your Grandfather, all right? He loves you."
"I know," she said, with a grin. "Are you ready?"
"I'm ready," the Doctor said, grinning back at her.
He put his arms behind his back and faced her. She looked at him uncertainly for a moment then raised the book over her head with a loud grunt. Things went black again, and he knew no more.
"Oy! Wake up you git! I just saved your skinny rear end and all you're doing is lying there!"
The Doctor blinked his eyes open as Donna came into focus. Donna. He finally made it back. The only thing that he was regretting was the fact that he had to hear Donna yelling because right then his head felt like it was going to split open by the sound.
"Enough of that," he said fully waking. "Is that how you treat people with head injuries?"
"You all right?"
He nodded, instantly regretting it. "Fantastic," he muttered sarcastically.
"What happened?" she asked as he stood up and began pacing the console.
The Doctor was silent as he raised the shields and pressed various buttons, making sure nothing was going to explode again. Well, it shouldn't now since he adjusted the TARDIS.
The TARDIS. Susan.
Donna was confused by his silence. "You sure you're all right?" she asked, stepping closer to him. His face was pale and his eyes were bloodshot. Something wasn't right. She placed a hand on his to still him. "Doctor!"
The Doctor stopped. "I... I went back in time."
"Well, that shouldn't come as shocking to you, eh? I mean you do that all the time."
Donna watched as various emotions flit across his face and before she could call him on it, The Doctor set coordinates and rushed out of the console room. "Doctor!" Donna exclaimed, following him.
It'd been so long since he thought about them all of them. Nyssa and her intelligence, the only one he believed truly understood him.
Then there was Ace and her wild attitude-she was there along with Susan. On Gallifrey when he destroyed it. In the heat of battle they never even crossed his mind and that s what was killing him the most.
He turned to face her. "Okay seriously, Doctor you're scaring me. What happened?"
For a moment he did not respond. "I saw some people I thought I'd never see again. But, it's over."
"Oh, Doctor. You always do this. You act like nothing bothers you," Donna said.
"I have to, Donna," the Doctor said, quietly. "Otherwise..."
"I know, Doctor," Donna replied, her own voice soft. She reached out to take the Doctor s hand, smiling.
He accepted her hand and squeezed, smiling back, and after a moment, he reached for her, and they shared a long hug.
"Okay?" she asked.
"Okay," he said.