A/N: Welcome, welcome! This is the fourth story in the Academic Series featuring my OC the Professor, a revision of the 10th Doctor Specials! I would recommend reading the first three stories (Reunion, Recuperation, and Relapse) to get a better sense of who the Professor is and her history with the Doctor.
~8~ is a scene break
~/~\~ is a flashback
'italics' is the Doctor/Professor speaking telepathically.
These chapters (the Academic Series in general) are set around the Doctor or Professor's point of view, which means scenes will be missing, any of those scenes that include references to the Doctor should be imagined to also include the Professor.
This incarnation of the Professor (her 10th) is a lean, blue eyed, blonde woman, hair in a ponytail, who typically wears a gray/blue thin strap tank top, knee length black cargo pants, black shoes, and black fingerless gloves, along with a familiar sonic blaster in a holster around her waist.
This story will be updated every day :)
Disclaimer: I do not own Doctor Who...if I did, I'd have a jacket with pockets bigger on the inside too...
The Next Doctor
The TARDIS materialized under a bridge in the snow. The Professor peeking out of it as per the norm to make sure it was safe before stepping out, seeing no danger.
She'd lost the fingerless gloves she used to wear, but kept her blaster and its holster, though added a thin grayish-blue hooded jacket made of a thin sweater-like material. Her bracelet, the one the Doctor had given her for her 100th birthday, was visible on her wrist once more, having been hidden under the fingerless gloves to keep it safe. There was a new addition in terms of jewelry as well. The Doctor seemed to have realized he'd never properly given her an engagement ring when he saw her bracelet visible again and disappeared off somewhere in the TARDIS, only to come back with a little golden band with a small, simple, familiar diamond on the top, a Whitepoint Star, which could only be found on Gallifrey. He'd apparently kept a few more keepsakes from their planet than just their things and had taken the small stone and the metal ring to an Earth jeweler's to be fitted into an engagement band in 1969, when both she and Martha had been at their jobs. He'd forgotten about it since then, what with going to Utopia and dealing with the Master and then her regeneration...she hadn't been one for displaying jewelry.
But now, she wore it proudly.
She held the door open, allowing the Doctor to step out after her. He looked around with a smile, seeing freshly fallen snow, before they headed out under the bridge and into a busy market area. The people, dressed in period clothing, were milling around, buying things from the garland and ribbon decorated stalls.
"You there, boy!" the Doctor called, spotting a boy a few feet away, "What day is this?"
"Christmas Eve, sir."
"You thick or something?"
"Oi, just answer the question."
"Year of our Lord 1851, sir."
"Right. Nice year. Bit dull," the Professor shook her head at him, "What?"
"You do know that I'm here yes? I can tell you the time and day just as well."
He grinned, still so happy that she was back to herself, to a point. He'd noticed that she was far more open around him than with others, when strangers came into play, she was just as cautious as she had been before being dosed with Donna's humanity, "Oh I know, just thought I'd give you a break."
She rolled her eyes at him and looked around, smiling softly, "I love Earth at Christmas time."
He nodded, "That always was your favorite Earth holiday," he remarked, gazing at her a moment, "I don't actually know why that is."
There was a pink tint to her cheeks, "A very special little boy gave me my first ever gift for Christmas," she answered quietly, "I suppose it always stuck with me."
He blinked and smiled softly at her.
"There you are!" he cheered loudly, making her jump. She always did that whenever he'd find her hidden away in different areas of the library. She'd get so caught up in her books that she'd be oblivious to the world till he literally shouted out at her.
He had to admit though, the little start she always gave was rather cute, and the smile she always graced him with when she saw it was him always made his day, like now.
"Hello," she greeted him quietly, always aware that they were in a library, always trying to respect the rules. A habit he was determined to break her of.
"Merry Christmas!" he plopped down before her, a blue box in his hands with a bright white bow.
She blinked, frowning a moment, and he knew she was going over everything she'd learned, trying to remember where she'd heard the phrase before, "Oh!" she got it, "The Earth holiday?"
He nodded, beaming, practically buzzing with excitement to give her the gift he'd made, "The Earthlings tend to give gifts on Christmas," he reminded her, holding up the box, "I got you something!"
She stared at the box a moment, wide eyed, before slowly reaching out and taking it from him. She set it down in her lap, the box just about coming up to her chin when she looked at him, "But…I didn't get you…"
He waved her off, "That's alright, I wanted to surprise YOU."
She blinked, he was always trying to do that. She smiled softly and looked at the box.
He waited a few more moments but she didn't move, "Open it," he urged her. He could not wait till she opened that box. He really hoped she'd like his gift.
She gave him a soft laugh and started to slowly undo the paper he'd wrapped the gift in, agonizingly slowly if he had to describe it. He was about to tell her to just rip it off when he noticed something…
There was a shininess in her eyes, a care, a…reverence almost. It was as though this were a moment she never ever wanted to forget, an important moment, and he felt his hearts constrict.
She'd never gotten a gift before.
He'd bet his entire stock of the Earth Jelly Babies he had stashed away in his room that he was right.
And it was so wrong.
Typically, since their people lived so long, it made little sense to celebrate the day they were born every year. Stepping stone ages were celebrated. Their 8th year when they entered the Academy was celebrated with gifts, then their 50th, their first triple digit 100, their Naming year 125, when they were halfway through their schooling at 200, and then when they graduated at 400. After that they would usually celebrate every 100 years, with very big celebrations whenever they added another 0.
He knew from what little he'd gotten her to speak of from before she entered the Academy that her mother had been away on a research assignment when she was to start at the Academy. She never mentioned her father and when he brought it up she would shut down entirely. It was very, very likely that this was the first gift anyone had ever given her. Now, he REALLY hoped she liked it.
He shook himself out of his thoughts when he heard her gasp. He looked up to see that she had unwrapped the box and taken the top off it, pulling a small, furry object out.
"It's called a Teddy Bear on Earth," he told her, watching as she examined the stuffed animal he'd spent months making for her, a rather good rendition of a yellow teddy if he said so himself, he'd even given it a little personalization in the form of brown button eyes and a blue bow tie!
She nodded to herself, recalling having read a bit about the playthings of Earth children, but to see one…to have one…it was very cute and very soft, "Thank you," she breathed, truly touched that he'd clearly put so much time and effort into making her such a gift.
"This one's special though," he continued, "This one's magic."
She looked up at him, her eyes wide with the awe only an 8 year old could have, "Magic?"
He nodded, grinning widely, "This bear can tell me when you need me," he explained, scooting closer to sit beside her, "All you have to do is hug it and call for me, and I'll hear you. I'll find you," he wasn't about to tell her that there was a little chip in the bear's belly that would set off a blinking light in his room and on the small watch he always wore whenever she called for him, no, he wouldn't ruin the magic of it all. He knew she needed magic in her life more than anyone, something he was determined to provide, "Whenever you need me, you just call."
She blinked quite a few times, tears in her eyes as she looked at the bear and then at him, "Thank you," she whispered, before leaning over and kissing him on the cheek quickly. She scurried to her feet and dashed off, her cheeks pink, wanting to get the bear back to her rooms so she'd know it'd be safe.
As he watched her go, wide eyed, mouth open, in shock of her actions. He slowly raised his hand to his cheek, right where she'd kissed him, and smiled.
He should have known he loved her. He really should have. What 10 year old boy gets kissed by a girl and doesn't run off screaming 'cooties' or some other such germ?
He opened his mouth to speak when suddenly, someone a fair distance away shouted, "Doctor!"
He looked around as did the Professor.
"Doctor!" the woman shouted again.
"Who, me?" he frowned.
"It's coming from this direction," the Professor grabbed his hand and ran off, following the sound of the shouting through the alleys till they reached a black woman nervously backing away from a pair of large bolted doors.
"Doctor!" she shouted.
"Don't worry, don't worry," the Doctor ran up, "Stand back, what have we got here? Ooh," a growling sounded from behind the doors as something threw itself against it, the Professor's eyes narrowed as she listened closely to the sounds, "Ok, we've got it. Whatever's behind that door, I think you should get out of here."
"No," he frowned, "I'm standing right here. Hello."
"Don't be so stupid, who are you?"
"I'm the Doctor."
"Well, there can't be two of ya," she remarked just as another man in period clothes ran over, "Where the hell have you been?"
"Don't worry," he smiled, "Stand back. What have we got here, then?"
"Hold on, hold on," the Doctor cut in, "Who are you?"
"I'm the Doctor. Simply the Doctor. The one, the only, and the best. Rosita, give me the sonic screwdriver.
The black woman handed him something quickly.
"What?" the Doctor shook his head.
"Now quickly, get back to the TARDIS."
"Back to the what?"
"Stand back, sir, ma'am. This is a job for a Time Lord."
"Job for a what Lord?" the doors burst open and a creature with a shaggy, furry body and a metal Cyberman-like face appeared, "Oh, that's different," he reached into his pocket.
"Oh, that's new…" the man agreed.
They both aimed their sonics at it with a cry of, "Allons-y!" before glancing at each other.
"I've been hunting this beast for a good fortnight," the Other Doctor told them, "Now step back, sir, ma'am."
The creature leapt over them and clung to the wall of the building behind them, "Some sort of primitive conversion, like they took the brain of a cat or a dog..." the Doctor muttered.
"It's a Cybershade," the Professor identified quietly.
"Well, talking's all very well," the Other Doctor remarked, "Rosita."
"I'm ready," Rosita handed him a length of rope which he swung over his head like a lasso.
"Now, watch and learn!" he released the rope and it caught the Shade, "Excellent. Now then, let's pull this timorous beastie down to Earth."
The Shade, however, scaled the wall, taking the Other Doctor with him.
"Or not," the Professor remarked.
"I might be in a little bit of trouble," the Other Doctor admitted.
"Nothing new there."
The Doctor reached out and grabbed the rope, "I've got you…" only to be pulled up the building as well.
"You idiots!" Rosita shouted.
"Perhaps if you could pull?" the Other Doctor called.
"I am pulling," he replied, "In this position, I couldn't not pull, could I?"
The Shade jumped into a window. The Professor shook her head, glancing around before spotting a set of steps leading up the side of the building the Shade had entered, running for them, leaving the men to argue amongst themselves.
"Then I'd suggest you let go, sir," the Other Doctor called.
"I'm not letting you out of my sight, Doctor. Don't you recognize me?"
"No, should I? Have we met? This is hardly the right time for me to go through my social calendar."
The Shade started to run, pulling them up and into a room on the top of a warehouse, dashing across the floor, dragging them.
"It's gonna jump!" the Doctor shouted, spotting the window the Shade was headed for.
"We're gonna fall!" the Other Doctor agreed.
Just as they neared the window a small flash of light collided with the rope, breaking it. The Doctors tumbled around due to the sudden stop, slowly standing, groaning, before laughing and hugging each other. The Doctor looked over to see the Professor putting her blaster back in her holster as Rosita ran up the steps and over to her Doctor.
"Nice shot," he murmured, walking over to her.
"Always was a better shot than you," she remarked with a little smile.
As the four of them walked down the stairs of the warehouse, back to the alley, the Doctors were still laughing.
"Well, I'm glad you think it's so funny," Rosita glared at the men, "You're mad. Both of you. You could've got killed."
"But, evidently, we did not," the Other Doctor replied, "Oh, I should introduce Rosita. My faithful Companion, always telling me off."
"Well, they do, don't they?" the Doctor grinned, "Rosita? Good name. Hello, Rosita."
"Huh," Rosita harrumphed, "Now I'll have to go and dismantle the traps. All that for nothing. And we've only got twenty minutes till the funeral, don't forget," she turned to walk away, "Then back to the TARDIS, right?"
"Oh, long story," the Other Doctor waved him off, "Not my own, not yet," he bent over, stretching, "Ooh, I'm not as young as I was."
"Well, not as young as you were when you were me."
"When I was who?"
"You really don't recognize me?" the Doctor frowned, gesturing between himself and the Professor, "Either of us?"
"Not at all."
"But you're the Doctor. The Next Doctor. Or the next-but-one. A future Doctor anyway."
"No, no, don't tell me how it happened. Although...I hope I don't just trip over a brick, that'd be embarrassing. Then again, painless. Worse ways to go, depends on the brick."
"You're gabbling, sir. Now, might I ask, who are you, exactly?"
"No, I'm, uh...I'm just Smith. John Smith. And this is Katherine Stewart, my fiancé," he couldn't help but grin at the word as the Professor shook the Other Doctor's hand. He hadn't gotten to say that often before, "But I've heard all about you, Doctor. Bit of a legend, if I say so myself."
"Modesty forbids me to agree with you, sir. But yes. Yes, I am."
"A legend with certain memories missing," the Professor remarked.
"How do you know that?" the Other Doctor looked at her, startled.
"You've forgotten us," the Doctor replied, "Tell me…if I were to say 'the Professor…'"
"How do you know of her?" he gasped.
"Who is she?" the Professor asked him cautiously.
"She was my best friend. My beloved…but…she's gone now…"
The Doctor tensed and took the Professor's hand, "How?"
"I can't remember," he sighed, "Great swathes of my life have been stolen away. When I turn my mind to the past, there's nothing, simply heartache..."
"Going how far back?" the Professor asked.
"Since the Cybermen. Masters of that hellish wall-scuttler and old enemies of mine, now at work in London Town. You won't believe this, but they are creatures from another world."
"Really?" the Doctor raised an eyebrow, "Wow…"
"It's said they fell onto London, out of the sky in a blaze of light. And they found me…" he looked into the distance, remembering, "Something was taken. And something was lost…" he looked up at the Doctor and Professor, "What was I like? In the past?"
"I don't think we should say. Sorry. Got to be careful with memory loss. One wrong word..."
"It's strange, though. I talk of Cybermen from the stars and you don't blink, Mr. Smith nor you Miss Stewart."
"Ah, don't blink, remember that? Whatever you do, don't blink? The blinking and the statues? Sally and the Angels? No?"
"You're a very odd man."
"Hmm, I still am. Something's wrong here."
"Oh, the funeral! The funeral's at two o'clock. It's been a pleasure, Mr. Smith, Miss Stewart. Don't breathe a word of it."
"Can't we come with you?"
"It's far dangerous. Rest assured, I shall keep this city safe. Oh, and, er...merry Christmas, Mr. Smith, Miss Stewart," he waved at them before disappearing around the corner.
"Merry Christmas, Doctor," he muttered.
"He's not you," the Professor stated.
"How do you know?"
"His DNA is human," she held up her hand, "I can't hear him in my mind. And you shook his hand as well, that would cause a paradox, Chameleon Arch in use or not, and yet nothing happened."
He nodded, eyeing the corner before turning to her, "What should we do now?'
"I suppose we should follow him to the funeral, keep an eye on him," she looked over to see him grinning at her widely, "What?"
"You took my hand before."
"You haven't done that lately, when we would run. Tactical disadvantage and all…"
She paused, considering her words, while ever since the incident with Donna she had become more open, she did have difficulty expressing very deep emotions, even to him, "Holding your hand…would never be a tactical disadvantage."
He beamed at her, kissing her quickly before pulling her down the street.
They watched as the Other Doctor and Rosita surveyed the funeral procession from behind a few crates, close enough to hear them but not be seen.
"The late Reverend Fairchild, leaving his place of residence for the last time," the Other Doctor said, "God rest his soul. Now, with the house empty, I shall affect an entrance at the rear while you go back to the TARDIS. This is hardly work for a woman."
"Oh, don't mind me or that other girl saving your life," Rosita rolled her eyes, "That's work for a woman, isn't it?"
"The Doctor's Companion does what the Doctor says. Off you go."
They watched as the duo parted ways and followed the Other Doctor off.
The Doctor threw open the back door to the reverend's home to see the Other Doctor trying to pick the lock.
"Hello!" he grinned.
"How did you get in?" the Other Doctor looked at them.
"Front door approach," the Professor replied.
The Doctor nodded, "I'm good at doors. She's better," he gestured to the Professor, "Um, do you mind my asking, is that your sonic screwdriver?"
"Yeah," he held up a regular screwdriver, "I'd be lost without it."
"But, that's a screwdriver. How's it sonic?"
"Well, er, it makes a noise," he tapped it against the doorframe, "That's sonic, isn't it? Now, since we're acting like common burglars, I suggest we get out of plain view," he entered the house and the Professor closed the door behind him. They exchanged a glance before following the Other Doctor down the hall and into a library, watching as he headed straight for the desk in the middle of the room and began to search the drawers.
"This investigation of yours, what's it about?" the Doctor asked after a moment.
"It started with a murder."
"Oh, good. I mean bad, but whose?"
"Mr. Jackson Lake, a teacher of mathematics from Sussex. He came to London three weeks ago and died a terrible death."
"Cybermen?" the Professor frowned.
"It's hard to say, his body was never found. But then it started. More secret murders. Then abductions. Children…stolen away in silence."
"So whose house is this?" the Doctor looked around.
"The latest murder," he moved to a book rack, "The Reverend Aubrey Fairchild. Found with burns to his forehead, like some advanced form of electrocution."
"But who was he, was he important?"
"You ask a lot of questions."
"We're your Companions."
"The reverend was the pillar of the community, a member of many parish boards. A keen advocate of children's charities."
"Why would the Cybermen want him dead?" the Professor wondered, her eyes narrowed in thought, "And what's his connection to the first of Jackson Lake?"
"It's funny," the Other Doctor looked at them, "I seem to be telling you everything. As though you engendered some sort of...trust. You seem familiar. I know your face," he glanced at the Doctor, "But how?"
"I wonder," the Doctor glanced down, "I can't help noticing you're wearing a fob watch."
"Is that important?"
"Legend has it that the memories of a Time Lord can be contained within a watch," the Professor stated, glancing at it as well.
"Do you mind?" the Doctor held out a hand, wanting to be sure the Chameleon Arch wasn't involved, and the Other Doctor handed him the watch, "It's said that if it's opened..." he opened the watch and all the workings fell to the floor, "Oh. Maybe not."
"It's more for decoration…" the Other Doctor remarked.
"Yeah. Anyway, alien infiltration."
They broke apart, turning to search the room, "Look for anything different, possibly metal. Anything that doesn't seem to belong, perhaps a mechanical device that could fit no Earthly engine," the Other Doctor called as the Doctor pulled out the sonic and scanned the area, moving over to a locked desk, "It could even seem to be organic, but unlike any organism of the natural world. Shh! What's that noise?"
The Doctor tossed the sonic to the Professor who hid it behind her back as they spun to face him, "Oh, it's just me...whistling…" he made a whistling impression of the sonic, "I wonder what's in here, though…" he pointed at the scroll top desk he'd opened, "Ah…" he pulled out a metal cylinder and handed it to the Professor to examine, "Different and metal, you were right."
"Infostamp," she assessed.
"At a guess," the Doctor cut in.
The Professor nodded, following along, "I would guess they worked something like this…" she pressed one end and held it out towards the wall where images were projected rapidly on it. She nodded, "Compressed information."
"Tons of it," he put on his specs, "That is the history of London…"
"1066 to the present day," the Professor agreed, vaguely realizing that this was the first time in a long while that she and the Doctor had alternated narrative, she hadn't exactly been one for speaking much before.
"This is like a disk," he took the stamp from her and frowned, "A Cyberdisk. But why would the Cybermen need something so simple?"
The Other Doctor fell into a chair at the sight of the stamp, a pained look on his face.
"They've got to be wireless," he continued.
"But they're in the wrong century, they haven't got much power," the Professor countered, "They would need plain infostamps to update themselves."
The Doctor glanced over to see the Other Doctor's plight, "Are you alright?"
"I'm fine," he waved them off.
"No, what is it?" he moved to sit across from him, the Professor standing behind him, "What's wrong?"
"I've seen one of these before. I was holding...this device," he reached out and took it from the Doctor, "The night I lost my mind. The night I regenerated. The Cybermen, they made me change. My mind, my face, my whole self. And you were there. Who are you?"
"Friends. I swear."
"Then I beg you, John, Katherine. Help me."
"Ah. Two words I never refuse," he grinned, standing, "But it's not a conversation for a dead man's house. It'll make more sense if we go back to the TARDIS...your TARDIS. Hold on, I just need to do a final check. Won't take a tick," he moved around the room, opening doors, "There's one more thing I cannot figure. If this room's got infostamps, then maybe, just maybe, it's got something that needs infostamping…" he opened a door and saw a Cyberman behind it, "Ok!" he closed it and spun around, "I think we should run."
"Already on it," the Professor called, already hefting the Other Doctor to his feet just as a Cyber shoved through the door.
"Run, Doctor! Now, Doctor!" he ran over, helping her push him out of the library.
"Delete!" the Cyberman cried.
They ran down the hall towards the front door when a second Cyberman blocked their way, "The Doctor will be deleted."
They turned and ran back, only for the first Cyber to break though a door, "Delete!"
"Stairs!" the Professor called, ushering the Other Doctor towards it.
"Can't lead them outside," the Doctor agreed, looking around, trying to find something to use as a weapon while the Professor grabbed her blaster. He opened an umbrella when he spotted a sword on the wall.
He flourished it, "I'm a dab hand with a cutlass. You don't want to come near me when I've got one of these. This is your last warning. No?" the Cybers continued to advance, "Ok, this is really your last warning! Ok, I give up!"
"Give me that!" the Professor grabbed the cutlass from his hand and fired at a Cyberman, forcing it back a moment. The other one advanced, swinging at her but she expertly used the cutlass to block it.
"Listen to me properly!" the Doctor called as they were forced up the stairs, "Whatever you're doing stuck in 1851, we can help! We're the only people in the world who can help you! Listen to us!"
"Not helping!" the Professor shouted, blasting the Cyber back a bit.
"I'm the Doctor," he tried, "You need me. Check your memory banks, my name's the Doctor. Leave this man alone! The Doctor is me!"
The Professor kicked a Cyberman in the chest, knocking him back, and grabbed the Doctor's arm to drag him farther up the stairs.
"The Doctor, remember?" he tried again, "I'm the Doctor! She's the Professor! You need us alive! You need the Doctor, and that's me!"
The Professor turned and stabbed forward, angling the sword to cut through the Cyber's chest. It fell backwards down the stairs, the second one stepping to the side to avoid it.
Suddenly a beam of energy shot out over them and struck the remaining Cyberman, causing it to fall to its knees, the head exploding. They spun around to see the Other Doctor standing there, panting, holding the stamp out before him.
"Infostamp with a cyclo-steinham core," the Professor eyed it, "You ripped open the core and broke the safety,"
"Zap!" the Doctor chuckled, "Only the Doctor would think of that. But then again," he beamed at the Professor, "The Professor would probably think of it first, being the faster thinker and all."
She gave a small smile at that.
"I did that...last time," the Other Doctor frowned.
The Doctor walked over to him, "Come here, you'll be ok. Let me just check…" he pulled out his stethoscope.
"You told them you were the Doctor and that she was the Professor. Why did you do that?"
"Oh, we were just protecting you," he listened to the man's chest.
"You're trying to take away the only thing I've got, like they did. They stole something, something so precious. But I can't remember. What happened to me? What did they do?"
"We'll find out. You and me and her, together."
"Doctor!" Rosita shouted that night as she ran over and hugged the Other Doctor as he led them to his base, "I thought you were dead!"
"Now then, Rosita," the Other Doctor pulled away, "A little decorum."
"You've been gone for so long. He's always doing this, leaving me behind. Going frantic."
"What about the TARDIS?"
"Oh, she's ready. Come on," she took his arm and led him away.
"I'm looking forward to this," the Doctor muttered, following them into the building which turned out to be a set of stables, loaded with cases scattered around, clothes everywhere.
"You were right though, Rosita," the Other Doctor was saying, "The Reverend Fairchild's death was the work of the Cybermen."
"So, you live here?" the Doctor looked around.
"A temporary base, until we rout the enemy. The TARDIS is magnificent, but it's hardly a home," he stepped into a stall and washed his face in a basin of water.
"And where is the TARDIS now?" the Professor frowned.
"In the yard."
"Er...what's all this luggage?" the Doctor asked.
"Evidence. The property of Jackson Lake, the first man to be murdered. Oh, but my new friends are fighters, Rosita, much like myself. Miss Stewart even faced the Cybermen with a cutlass! I'm not ashamed to say, she was braver than I," the Professor tossed the Doctor the sonic back, sensing him wanting to look around, and he flashed it, "She was quite brilliant…are you whistling again?"
"Yes," the Doctor spun around, "Yes, I am, yeah. Yeah," he winked at Rosita who had seen him, making a 'shh' motion, before opening one of the trunks.
"That's another man's property!" Rosita called.
"A dead man's," the Professor corrected, noting she was still more than a bit blunt at times before moving to search the trunk.
The Doctor watched her a moment before glancing at Rosita, "How did you two meet, then?"
"He saved my life," Rosita smiled, "Late one night, by the Osterman's Wharf, this...creature came out of the shadows. A man made of metal. I thought I was gonna die. And then, there he was. The Doctor. Can you help him, sir? He has such terrible dreams. Wakes at night in such a state of terror."
"Come now, Rosita," the Other Doctor tried to wave her off, "With all the things a Time Lord has seen, everything he's lost, he may surely have bad dreams."
"Yeah," the Doctor nodded when the Professor held up another stamp, "Oh, now, look. Jackson Lake had an infostamp."
"But how? Is that significant?"
"Doctor, the answer to all this is in your TARDIS. Could we see it?"
"Mr. Smith, Miss Stewart, it would be my honor," he turned and led them through the back of the stables and out into a small yard where a hot air balloon was tethered to the ground, a young man beside it, "There she is! My transport through time and space. The TARDIS."
"You've got a balloon…" he blinked.
"TARDIS. T-A-R-D-I-S. It stands for Tethered Aerial Release Developed in Style. D'you see?"
"Well, I do now. I like it. Good TARDIS. Brilliant. Nice one," he stepped forward with the Professor to inspect it.
She sniffed, "It's inflated by gas."
"We're adjacent to the Mutton Street Gasworks," the Other Doctor nodded, "I pay them a modest fee. Good work, Jed," he clapped the young man's shoulder.
"Glad to be of service, sir, "Jed grinned, taking a bill from the Other Doctor as he paid him from a number stashed in his inner pocket.
"You've got quite a bit of money," the Doctor remarked.
"Oh, you get nothing for nothing," the Other Doctor smiled, "How's that ripped panel, Jed?"
"All repaired, should work a treat," he replied, "You never know, maybe tonight's the night, Doctor. Imagine it, seeing Christmas from above."
"Well, not just yet, I think. One day, I will ascend. One day soon."
"You've never actually been up?" the Doctor frowned.
"He dreams of leaving, but never does," Rosita told them.
"I can depart in the TARDIS once London is safe," the Other Doctor stated, "And finally, when I'm up there...think of it. The time and the space."
"The perfect escape," he nodded, taking the Professor's hand unconsciously, "Do you ever wonder what you're escaping from?"
"With every moment."
He glanced at the Professor who nodded and he turned back to the Other Doctor, "Then do you want us to tell you? 'Cos I think we've worked it out now. How you became the Doctor. What do you think? Do you want to know?"
The Doctor and Professor sat across from the Other Doctor and Rosita in the stables, glancing at each other before nodding.
"The story begins with the Cybermen," the Doctor started, "A long time away, and not so far from here, the Cybermen were fought and they were beaten, and they were sent into a howling wilderness called the Void, locked inside forevermore. But then a greater battle rose up, so great that everything inside the Void perished."
"As the walls of the world weakened," the Professor continued, knowing how hard it was for the Doctor to talk about that whole incident, "The last of the Cybermen must have fallen through the dimensions, back in time, to land here. And they found you."
"I fought them," the Other Doctor nodded, "I know that. But what happened?"
"At the same time, another man came to London," the Doctor added, "Mr. Jackson Lake. Plenty of luggage, money in his pocket. Maybe coming to town for the winter season, I don't know. But he found the Cybermen too. And just like you, exactly like you, he took hold of an infostamp."
"But he's dead. Jackson Lake is dead. The Cybermen murdered him."
"You said no body was ever found," the Professor reminded him, "And you kept all his suitcases, but you could never bring yourself to open them. The answer is in the fob watch. May I?" she held out her hand and he gave it to her, she simply flipped it over to reveal a monogram, "'J.L..' The watch is Jackson Lake's."
"Jackson Lake is...you, sir?" Rosita looked at the Other Doctor, stunned.
"But I'm the Doctor," Jackson insisted.
"You became the Doctor," the Professor stressed, "Because the infostamp you picked up was a book about one particular man," she pressed the infostamp they'd found in the luggage to play on the wall, showing all the Doctor's incarnations, "The Cybermen's database. Stolen from the Daleks inside the Void, but it is everything you could want to know about the Doctor."
"That's you," Jackson breathed, seeing the last incarnation sitting across from him.
"Time Lord, TARDIS, enemy of the Cybermen," he clicked his tongue, "The one and the only. You see? The infostamp must have backfired, streamed all that information about me right inside your head."
"I am nothing but a lie…"
"No, no, no, no, no. Infostamps are just facts and figures. All that bravery. Saving Rosita. Defending London Town. Hmm? And the invention, building a TARDIS. That's all you."
"And what else? Tell me what else?"
"There's still something missing, isn't there?"
"I demand you tell me. Tell me what they took."
"Sorry. Really, we are so sorry. But that's an awful lot of luggage for one man."
"An infostamp is plain technology," the Professor spoke up, wanting to return to facts, not exactly comfortable yet with great deals of emotion from others just yet, "It is by no means enough to make a man lose his mind. What you suffered is called a 'fugue.' A fugue state, where the mind runs away because it can't bear to look back. You wanted to become someone else, because Jackson Lake had lost so much."
A bell tolled in the distance.
"Midnight," Rosita remarked, "Christmas Day."
"I remember..." Jackson gasped, "Oh, my God...the Professor...no..." he shook his head, "Caroline. They killed my wife," he began to cry, "They killed her…" Rosita put an arm around him, trying to comfort him.
The Professor looked down at the stamp in her hand as it started to beep. She got up and followed it to another trunk.
The Doctor opened it, "Oh..." and pulled out a belt of stamps, "You found a whole cache of infostamps."
"But what is it?" Rosita looked up at them, "What's that noise?"
"Activation," the Professor looked at him suddenly, "A call to arms. The Cybermen are moving out!"
They ran outside to see the shadows of Cybermen heading towards them. Moments later Rosita joined them as a parade of orphans walked by.
"What is it?" Rosita frowned, "What's happening?" she looked up to see an old man, face void of emotions, lights flashing on his ears, walking behind the children, "That's Mr. Cole. He's Master of the Hazel Street Workhouse. Maybe he's taking them to prayers."
"Oh, nothing as holy as that," the Doctor said before rushing over to Mr. Cole, "Can you hear me? Hello? No? Mr. Cole, you seem to have something in your ear. Now, this might hurt a bit, but if I can just..." he reached into his pocket for the sonic.
The Professor quickly grabbed his arm, stopping him, 'Cybershade,' she warned him silently. He looked over to see a Shade peeking around the corner, up the street, "They're on guard," she said out loud, "We can't risk a fight. Not with the children."
"But where are they going?" Rosita asked.
"All need a good whipping, if you ask me," Jed remarked, walking over to them, "There's tons of 'em. I've just seen another lot coming from the Ingleby Workhouse down Broadback Lane."
"Where's that?" the Doctor turned to Rosita.
"This way!" Rosita ran off, leading them through the streets till they spotted another group of children being led by another man, "There's dozens of 'em!"
"But what for?" the Doctor frowned.
They watched as the children stopped before a set of large, wooden double doors which opened as two Cybermen stepped forward and a few Shades ran out.
"You will continue," the old man ordered, "You will enter the Court of the Cyberking," one boy tried to run but a Shade herded him back, "March. That is an order. March!" the children continued on.
"That's the door to the sluice," Rosita whispered, "All the sewage runs through there, straight into the Thames."
The Professor frowned, eyeing the entrance, "It's too well guarded. We'll have to find another way in."
The Doctor nodded and they turned back, only to see two Cybermen behind them. The Professor quickly grabbed her blaster, holding it out as the Cybers lifted their arms, both ready and waiting for the other to fire.
"Whoa!" the Doctor called, his hands up, trying to distract the Cybers from attacking, "That's cheating, sneaking up! Did you have your legs on silent?"
Just then a woman in a red dress strolled up and stood in front of the Cybers, "So...what do we have here?"
"Just walk towards me, slowly. Don't let them touch you."
The Professor's frown deepened, reading the woman's body language…knowing she was not as 'in danger' as the Doctor thought, no, she was clearly in league with the men.
"Oh, but they wouldn't hurt me, my fine boys. They are my knights in shining armor. Quite literally."
"Even if they've converted you, that's not a Cyber speech pattern. You've still got freewill. Step away..."
"She's not converted," the Professor remarked.
The woman nodded, "No one's ever been able to change my mind. The Cybermen offered me the one thing I wanted…liberation."
"Who are you?" Rosita glared.
"You can be quiet. I doubt he paid you to talk. More importantly, who are you, with such intimate knowledge of my companions?"
"The Professor," she replied.
"And I'm the Doctor," he added.
"Incorrect," one of the Cybers stated, "You do not correspond to our image of the Doctor."
"Because your database has been corrupted," the Professor tossed them the damaged stamp, "Plug it in. Download it. See for yourself."
"The core has been damaged," the Cyber assessed, "This infostamp would damage Cyberunits."
"Oh, well," the Doctor shrugged at her, "Nice try."
The Cyber held the stamp out till it beeped, "Core repaired. Download," it stuck it in a slot in its chest and uploaded, "You are the Doctor."
"Hello!" he waved.
"You will be deleted."
The Professor tensed.
"Oh, but let me die happy!" the Doctor cut in, holding a hand up to the Professor, signaling for her to wait, "Tell me, what d'you need those children for?"
"What are children ever needed for?" the woman asked, "They're a workforce."
"But for what?"
"Very soon now, the whole Empire will see. And they will bow down, in worship."
"And it's all been timed for Christmas Day. Was that your idea, Miss..."
"Hartigan. And, yes, it's the perfect day for a birth, with a new message for the people. Only this time, it won't be the words of a man."
"The birth of what?"
"A birth and a death. Namely, yours. Thank you, Doctor. I'm glad to have been part of your very last conversation. Now, delete them."
"Delete!" the Cybers shouted .
The Professor aimed, about to fire, when a beam of energy hit the Cybers from behind. They fell to the ground, revealing Jackson with a belt of stamps behind them.
"At your service, Doctor, Professor," he grinned.
"Shades!" Hartigan called, "Shades!"
"Run!" the Doctor shouted, "Come on!"
"One last thing," Rosita turned and punched Hartigan across the face, knocking her to the ground.
"Can I say, I completely disapprove!" the Doctor remarked.
"I don't," the Professor replied, grabbing Rosita's arm to pull her, "Come on!"
They ran off with Jackson, racing around corners and down streets, till they were far enough away to stop for a breather.
"That stronghold down by the river," the Professor turned to the humans, seemingly less out of breath than the others, "We need to find a way in."
"I'm ahead of you," Jackson nodded, "My wife and I were moving to London so I could take up a post at the university. And while my memory is still not intact, this was in the luggage," he pulled out legal documents, "The deeds, 15 Latimer Street. And if I discovered the Cybermen there, in the cellar, then..."
"That might be a way in!" the Doctor realized, "Brilliant!"
"But there's still more. I remember the cellar...and my wife. But I swear there was something else in that room…if we can find that, perhaps that's the key to defeating these invaders. So...onwards!" he turned and led them off.
"Maybe you should go back..." the Doctor turned to Rosita.
"Don't even try!" the woman shoved past him and after Jackson.
"No," he agreed as he and the Professor followed as well.
The group ran into the cellar of 15 Latimer Street to see a Cyberman standing there.
Before it could even finish the Professor fired one blast straight through its eye hole, destroying the brain within it on her way down the steps into the cellar, towards a device set up in the middle of the floor, thoroughly shocking the humans with her precision.
"Must've been guarding this," the Doctor muttered as he joined her.
"A Dimension Vault," she assessed, "Stolen from the Daleks again," she looked up at him, "That's how the Cybermen travelled through time."
"Jackson, is this the thing you couldn't remember?" the Doctor glanced over at him.
"I don't think so," he shook his head, "I'm...I just can't see. It's like it's hidden."
"Yeah, not enough power. Come on! Avanti!"
They ran down the tunnel in the side of the room and proceeded cautiously along, Rosita and Jackson behind them, the Professor in the lead with her blaster out and ready.
"What do the Cybermen want?" Rosita asked.
"They want us," the Doctor replied, "That's what Cybermen are, human beings with their brains put into metal shells. They want every living thing to be like them."
They stopped short, peeking around a corner to see a workroom where the children were toiling away.
"Upon my soul," Jackson breathed.
"What is it?" Rosita frowned.
"It's an engine," the Professor squinted, taking in all the details of the mechanics, "They're generating electricity."
"But what for?" the Doctor wondered.
Jackson moved forward, "We can set them free!"
"No, no, no, no, no, no, no..." the Doctor turned and ran back the way they came, the Professor with him, both coming to the same conclusion at once. They found a panel in the wall, giving out readings on the power and progress.
"Power at 90 percent," the Professor read, "But if we stop the engine, the power dies down, the Cybermen will be alerted."
"Ooh," he tapped the reading, "Hold on. Power fluctuation. That's not meant to happen."
"It's going wrong?" Jackson asked.
"No, it's weird. The software's rewriting itself. It's changing," he jumped back a surge went through the system, "What the hell's happening? It's out of control!"
"It's accelerating. 96 percent, 97..."
"When it reaches 100, what about the children?" Rosita gasped.
"They're disposable," the Professor stated grimly, "Move!"
They ran back into the engine room to see the Cybermen marching towards the children, calling, "Delete! Delete!"
Jackson and Rosita fired infostamps, incapacitating them.
"Right," the Doctor shouted to the children, "Now! All of you, out! D'you hear me? That's an order! Every single one of you, run!"
"All of you, come on!" Jackson ushered the children out as they ran for it, "As fast as you can, come on!"
"There's a hot pie for everyone, if you leg it!"
"Rosita," the Professor turned to her, "Get them out of the sluice gate and once you're out, keep running, far as you can."
Rosita nodded and ran after the children, "Turn right at the corner! Fast as you can, and don't stop! Keep running, keep running!"
"Go!" the Doctor called as the last of the children ran out, "Quick, quick," he looked over at the Professor who was checking a gauge just inside the door.
"It's some sort of starter motor…" she muttered.
"That's my son..." they heard Jackson breathe, they looked over to see him staring at a little boy, standing, scared, on the scaffolding, "My son. Doctor, Professor, my son!"
They ran over, "What?"
"They took my son. No wonder my mind escaped! Those damned Cybermen, they took my child. But he's alive! Frederic!"
"Come on!" the Doctor ushered Frederic to jump.
"No, he's too scared. Stay there! Don't move! I'm coming," he headed for the stairs but a large explosion forced him back, blocking the route. The Professor ran over and helped him to his feet, "I can't get up there. Fred!"
"They've finished with the motor," she called over to the Doctor, "It's going to blow."
"What are we going to do? What are we going to do?"
"Come on, Jackson," the Doctor pulled out the cutlass he'd put in his pocket in the reverend's house and grabbed a rope hanging by the scaffolding, "You know me," he cut the rope and a weight fell down on the other end, lifting him up to Frederic, "Oh, that's it," he smiled at the boy, "Hello! Now, hold on tight. Don't let go," Frederic climbed onto his back and the Doctor swung off the platform and down to Jackson, "Merry Christmas!" he handed his son over.
They emerged in the cellar of the house once more, Jackson with his son first and then the Professor and the Doctor, "Head for the street," she ordered, turning to the device, taking a scepter-like object out of it.
"Come on!" Jackson called, "Hurry up!"
They ran after him.
"It's a Cyberking," the Doctor gasped as they came to a stop on a street by the river, only to see a large, robotic creature walking through London.
"And a Cyberking is what?" Jackson frowned.
"It's a Dreadnought class ship," the Professor stated, "The front line of an invasion. Inside the chest is a Cyberfactory ready to convert millions."
They watched in horror as it walked through London, causing chaos, people running, screaming, from it.
"Take him south, go to the parkland," the Doctor told Jackson.
"But where are you going?" he asked them.
"To stop that thing."
"I should be with you!"
"Jackson, you've got your son. You've got a reason to live."
"And you haven't?" he frowned.
"We live for each other," the Professor replied, nearly startling the Doctor with that proclamation, seeing her so unlike how she was before would take some getting used to, "But we also stand by each other and fight for others. We have to go."
He nodded, "God save you both."
They turned and ran off down the streets, heading right for the stables. They started rummaging thought the trunks, the Professor setting down the scepter to help when Jed walked in, "What the hell is that thing?" he asked, looking at the scepter.
"Oh, good man," the Doctor glanced up, "Jed, wasn't it? Jed, we need your help!" he pulled out another strand of stamps.
"I'm not going out there!" Jed shook his head.
"I'll give you five pound notes!"
"Um...alright. What d'you want me to do?"
"The TARDIS is gonna fly!"
The Professor grabbed the scepter and ran out with the Doctor, into the stable yard, tossing it and the stamps into the basket of the balloon as Jed shook his head at them, "You're flamin' bonkers!" he shouted as they hopped in.
"It's been said before!" he looked at the Professor as she picked up the scepter again.
"Not enough power yet," she shook her head.
"Jed!" he turned to the man, "Let her loose!"
Jed ran around to the ropes securing the balloon and began to let them go, "Ever flown one of these before?"
"Three," the Professor remarked, pulling the ropes inside.
"Three?" he looked at her questioningly, when had that happened?
"2,700 forms of transportation," she reminded him.
He just stared at her, "The Time Lords thought you'd need to learn how to fly a hot air balloon?"
"You would not believe the things they wanted to prepare us for," she muttered, examining the strand of stamps.
"Can I have my money now?" Jed eyed them warily, very confused and wondering about their mental health.
"Oh, get on with it!" the Doctor snapped.
Jed quickly untied the last rope and the balloon began to rise, "God's luck to you!"
The Doctor and Professor began to throw sandbags down, lightening the load. Just as they reached the chest height of the Cyberking, it turned around to face them. The Professor tossed him the scepter while grabbing the stamps and twisting them around her fist, snatching the Doctor's sonic from his jacket to bind them all together, she was not about to let the Doctor have to do this.
"Excellent!" Hartigan cheered, her voice carrying to them from where she sat in a throne surrounded by Cybermen, a device on her head, her eyes black, "The Doctor and the Professor! Yet another man come to assert himself against me in the night."
"Miss Hartigan, we're offering you a choice," the Doctor called, "You might have the most remarkable mind this world has ever seen. Strong enough to control the Cybermen themselves!"
"I don't need you to sanction me."
"No, but such a mind deserves to live, to be free!" he called, "Believe me," he glanced at the Professor, "I know," and back, "The Cybermen came to this world using a Dimension Vault. We can use that device to find you a home. With no people to convert. But a new world where you can live out your mechanical life in peace."
"I have the world below and it is abundant with so many minds, ready to become extensions of me. Why would I leave this place?"
"Because if you don't," the Professor finished and looked up, "I'll have to stop you."
"What do you make of me? An idiot?"
"No. The question is, what do you make of me?" she aimed the stamps at her.
The Professor eyed her harshly, though the Doctor could see a sadness and regret in her eyes, "You make me into this," she fired the stamps at her, hitting the device on the woman's head, leaving her seemingly unharmed.
"Then I have made you a failure. Your weapons are useless!"
The Professor shook her head sadly, "I wasn't trying to kill you."
"All she did was break the Cyberconnection," the Doctor explained, "Leaving your mind open. Open, I think, for the first time in far too many years, so you can see. Just look at yourself. Look at what you've done. We're sorry, Miss Hartigan. But look at what you've become," Hartigan gasped, seeing what had happened to her, looking at the Cybermen, screaming at the sight, "We're so sorry."
Hartigan screamed more, the energy building, until it shot through her, destroying all the Cybers connected to her as well as herself. The Cyberking began to stagger, explosions exuding from its joints.
The Doctor looked down at the Dimension Vault, hearing it beep, "Oh. Now you're ready!"
He aimed the device and fired, sucking the King into it as it began to fall. A moment later, in the silence, they heard applause carry up to them. They looked down to see a crowd of people cheering and clapping for them.
He smiled a bit, startled, before waving down to them with the Professor. He laughed, turning to ring a little bell when he felt someone take his hand. He looked over to see the Professor smiling softly at him and grinned back before turning to look out at the city, just enjoying the sight and the company.
The trio walked through the market as the people tried to fix everything and get it in order once more.
"The City will recover, as London always does," Jackson said, "Though the events of today will be history, spoken of for centuries to come!"
"Yeah," the Doctor laughed, "Funny that."
"And a new history begins for me. I find myself a widower, but with my son and with a good friend," he looked over to see Rosita standing beside Frederic with Jed.
"Now, take care of that one. She's marvelous."
"Frederic will need a nursemaid and I can think of none better. But you're welcome to join us. We thought we might all dine together, at the Traveler's Halt…" the Doctor looked away but Jackson wouldn't relent, "A Christmas feast, in celebration and in memory of those we have lost. You won't stay?"
"Like I said, you know me," the Doctor smiled as they reached the TARDIS.
"No, I don't think anyone does, save the Professor," he remarked with a wink to the woman.
"Oi," the Doctor mock glared, "MY Professor."
Jackson laughed as the Professor nudged him, "Possessive?" she asked, making him laugh as well.
Jackson's eyes widened, spotting the TARDIS, "Oh! And this is it! Oh, if I might, Doctor? One last adventure?"
"Oh, be my guest," he unlocked the door.
"Oh..." Jackson stepped through excitedly, only to pause on the ramp, "Oh, my word. Oh…" he walked up to the console, looking around, "Oh, goodness me. But this is...but this is nonsense!"
"Well, that's one word for it!"
"Complete and utter, wonderful nonsense! How very, very silly! Oh, no. I can't bear it! Oh, it's causing my head to ache. No, no, no, no, no, no, no..." he ran out, utterly overcome, "Oh! Oh, gracious. That's quite enough," the Doctor and Professor stepped out, closing the door behind them, "I take it this is goodbye?"
"Onwards and upwards."
"Tell me one thing. All those facts and figures I saw of the Doctor's life, you were never alone. You had the Professor. And all those bright and shining companions! But...not anymore?"
"Might I ask, why not?"
The Doctor sighed, looking down, "They leave. Because they should, or they find someone else. And some of them…some of them forget me. I suppose, in the end…they break my hearts…"
The Professor looked at him sadly, taking his hand, "But I will ALWAYS be here to mend them," she whispered, leaning forward to kiss him gently, one of the few kisses she had initiated since her regeneration. He smiled as she pulled away, seeing the pink on her cheeks at being so open with him with someone else there.
Jackson smiled at them, "That offer of Christmas dinner, it's no longer a request, it's a demand."
The Professor turned her smile on him, "You know me as well Jackson?" she asked him, "From the stamp?"
"Quite a bit actually," he laughed.
"I find this regeneration is quite stubborn, wouldn't you agree Doctor?" she looked at him, he nodded as well, confused, "I don't quite think I'm ready to leave. We must not be rude, must we?"
The Doctor smiled, before turning to Jackson with a laugh, "Oh, go on then!"
"Really?" Jackson grinned.
"Just this once," he nodded, pointing a mock warning finger at the Professor, "You've actually gone and changed my mind."
"Don't I always?" she countered.
He looked at Jackson, "Not many people can do that you know."
"She is something special Doctor," he nodded.
The Doctor eyed him a moment, in thought, "Jackson, if anyone had to be the Doctor, I'm glad it was you."
"The feast awaits. Come with me! Walk this way."
"We certainly will!" the Doctor cheered as they turned and walked off after him, "Merry Christmas to you, Jackson."
"Merry Christmas, indeed, Doctor, Professor."
"A very merry one," the Professor agreed as they walked through the lightly falling snow.
A/N: I've actually only just realized that I've been naming the stories along a pattern of RE(something) when I was thinking of a name for this story, I think I'd actually like to continue that :) I thought Rebound would be a good choice as this it relates to the Professor bouncing back from the setback her regeneration had caused her with the help of Donna's humanity. She's not quite 100 percent free from the soldier in her, but taking a giant step in that direction. This Professor is still trying to balance who she was and how she acted, the reactions she still has to certain events, with the person who had been buried beneath the soldier's shell and just freed. She'll still be a bit closed off, but this time only when they meet new people. But after warming up to them (much faster than she did in the last story) she'll be more comfortable expressing herself around them. Which, unfortunately means less Keta in the beginning of the chapters, but with more at the ends :)
The teddy bear, how sweet was that? I sort of imagine it as being like a fuzzy Pudsey Bear, but with a bow tie and button eyes instead of a bandage over its eye.
And, as promised, the results of the wedding poll. I'm pleased to say, you're getting a wedding! Woo! Not saying when though. Lol, it'll be a surprise ^-^