Author's note: The first ever fanfic I wrote (in a slighly extended version)...


FAST RETURN

In the Tardis control room the tableau was frozen.

The Doctor stood with his back to them, staring wordlessly at the scanner. In his hand was a key on a length of ribbon. He held it carefully, tenderly, as if it was a wounded bird.

Barbara sat in the ornate chair, hugging herself for comfort, her hair disordered, dried tears striping her cheeks.

Ian stood at the central console, braced against it. His face distorted and his fists clenching and unclenching. It was he who broke the tangible silence. "I just can't believe it…Susan…. and for what?"

The words hung in the air. Out there, on the desolate planet Dido, the Doctor's granddaughter lay in a crude grave. Murdered by a madman dressed in a Halloween mask and robes. Alongside her lay the girl Vicki, another innocent pawn in the madman's plot. There was no comfort in the fact that the murderer himself was dead at the hands of the surviving Didonians.

Ian thumped the console with his fist. The Doctor slowly turned around. "Chesterton, my boy. There is nothing we can do. Everything…everybody has its time...". His hollow words tailed off.

"How can we just leave her here?" said Barbara," We can't just carry on…." She sobbed as if a mother, for her lost child.

"What other choice do we have, my dear?" murmured the old man, moving slowly to the controls.

"We should have left her back there. On Earth, with David. You know that she loved him, don't you?"

" We are, none of us, blessed with such foreknowledge, Barbara. Yes, I was aware she had feelings for that young man. I gave her the choice..."

"You knew she would choose you. She would always choose you. It wasn't any choice at all…"

"You should have locked her out of the ship." Ian said, in a matter-of-fact way.

The Doctor looked at him sharply, then at the ribboned key in his hand. He let out a terrible sigh and, with a decisive movement, yanked a small lever on the console.

Invisible tendrils snaked out of the ship's dormant telepathic circuits, dampning the minds of his companions. Noiselessly they lapsed into unconsciousness; Barbara slumped in the chair and Ian at her feet, in an exact rendition of the only other time the Doctor had used this procedure — when he had first taken them from their native Earth.

After checking that his companions were oblivious the Doctor returned to the control console.

For a moment he hesitated. Then, with a furtive look around him, the old man reached for the Fast Return switch…

.

In the Tardis control room the Doctor beamed up happily from the console, watching Susan approach the Ship on the scanner. At his side stood Barbara, hanging onto his arm.

Outside lay a futuristic, ruined London – but a London now free of the cruel Daleks.

Ian walked into the control room from the dormitory section. His face was furrowed as he stared down at a sealed envelope in his hands.

"What's the matter, Chesterton?" asked the old man.

Ian scratched his neck. "I found this on my bed," he said, holding out the envelope. "It's addressed to you, Doctor."

"Me?" The Doctor took the envelope carefully. He squinted at it, then gave a start. He held it at arm's length, like some unexploded bomb.

"What is it?" asked Barbara, alarmed.

The old man looked at his companions with something akin to fear on his face. "I-it's from me."

Ian and Barbara looked at each other for one long, puzzling moment. It was broken as the Doctor opened the envelope with trembling hands.

He scanned the single sheet of paper quickly, gave a sudden cry and glanced up to the scanner where Susan was on the verge of entering the Ship. The old man flung himself across the console, barging Ian and Barbara aside in his haste.

A lever was thrown and the double doors of the ship slammed shut, double locked.

Susan's puzzled face filled the scanner screen...and what was, was once more.

THE END


...and as such, a suitable note on which to bow out. Thanks for reading.