You should know a few things about this story:
1) It did not go anywhere I thought it would. I originally was going to write a Victorian-era chameleon-arched Eight romance with Rose. This is, quite obviously, not that. Hopefully I still do that. I love me some Eight/Rose.
2) I've been reading a lot war-torn Nine stories lately and I love them. If you've not read Never Quite Normal you should go read it immediately. I'll still be here when you get back.
3) I've always wanted to write Alistair, Doris, Harry and John.
4) I also quite love Nine. This probably came about because I was just finishing up his last chapter of Shades of Blue and couldn't seem to bear to let him go.
So my question to you, dear readers: Are you interested in this story?
Doris Lethbridge-Stewart was just sitting down for a nice cup of tea with her husband when, quite suddenly, a loud, strange noise began to emanate from her back garden. With a surprised look at her husband who had nearly dropped his cuppa, she hurried out followed closely by him to see a Police Box materialize just beside her rose bush.
They stood staring at the door for a moment before it swung open, seemingly of its own volition. Alistair frowned and stepped into the ship first with Doris on his heels. He swung his head around, taking in the surprising almost organic interior of what had to be the Doctor's ship. No sign of the Doctor, however, any form of him that Alistair knew...or any form of him at all for that matter, it seemed.
"Doctor?" he called out into the bowels of the large room. The air around them was curious and felt heavy, almost with emotion. It made the hairs on their arms stand up.
"Hello?" Doris asked quietly, walking up to the center console and, despite the sound of discouragement from her husband, laying her hand on the coral just shy of any buttons or levers.
Suddenly the air changed and Doris felt almost welcomed, like she had just walked into her own home after being gone for a long time. The screen in front of her lit up to a brilliant blue and, to both their genuine surprise, words appeared.
Hello, it read in big friendly white letters.
Alistair moved forward to stand in front of Doris, edging her away from the console and eyeing the screen warily. They watched as the words shifted around.
I apologize for this crude form of communication, DorisLethbridgeStewart-mateofBrigadierGeneralAlista irLethbridgeStewart-human-friendoftheDoctor and BrigadierGeneralAlistairLeth bridgeStewart-mateofDorisLethbridgeStewart -human-friendoftheDoctor, but your mind is not formatted in a way that accepts telepathic connection and I cannot speak to you in an auditory fashion that would make sense to your human minds, she read off the screen, staring wide-eyed at the console when she was finished. The Time Rotor in front of her glowed a bright green and she felt apprehensive encouragement wash over her. Alistair, reading beside her simply pursed his lips more firmly and frowned a bit deeper.
Doris sighed. Apparently talking out loud to alien spaceships fell on her side of the "friend of the Doctor" job description.
"That's all right, ah..." she trailed off. What did one refer to a Police box shaped space ship as?
You may refer to me as TARDIS, if you wish, the monitor in front of her read.
Both Doris and Alistair looked at it in surprise and they watched as words formed again.
Yes, I can, in fact, read your thoughts, DorisLethbridgeStewart-mateofBrigadierGeneralAlista irLethbridgeStewart-human-friendoftheDoctor but I mean no harm. I will not look at your memories, the screen read while the air around them hummed comfortingly and, if she felt it correctly, a bit apologetically. A second later the screen changed. And to answer your question, BrigadierGeneralAlistairLeth bridgeStewart-mateofDorisLethbridgeStewart -human-friendoftheDoctor, so can the Doctor. Although, he is more aware of your cultural and species norms, and able to communicate in your primary verbal fashion thus he shields extensively while on Earth.
The Brigadier's mouth dropped open slightly and Doris smiled. "You can just call us by our names, TARDIS," she said.
Very well, DorisLethbridgeStewart, the screen said and Doris could have sworn the room around them smiled as well.
Alistair, having recovered from his shock, it seemed, stepped closer to the screen. "So why did you end up in my back garden, TARDIS?" he asked, full of authority but feeling a bit silly about talking into thin air.
The Doctor and, I, by extension, need you, the screen read after a hesitant pause and the air around them grew heavy and tense.
Doris looked up at her husband and could see the concern for his old friend etched there along with his apprehension. "Where is he?"
The light in the Time Rotor flickered for a moment before the screen read, This way.
All along the floor, lights glowed along a path back out of the console room and down the hallway. Alistair turned and walked briskly toward the lit door at the end with Doris trailing behind.
They both walked into a room which appeared to be a medical bay of some sort. Clinical white walls surrounded a shiny metal table, a multitude of complex machinery and monitors and, lying in a single stiff bed, a tall, lanky man dressed in dark jeans, a black jumper and a leather jacket. He appeared to be unconscious and unmoving but other than the strange headset device hanging from the ceiling near him, no other machines were hooked up to him.
The monitor over Doris' left shoulder suddenly read, Yes, that is him. Let me introduce to you the Ninth form of the Doctor.
"What happened?" Doris asked softly, reaching out to touch the still face of the grim looking man.
After a long pause in which sorrow and remorse hung heavy in the air, the screen changed to read, There was a war.
After a moment those words faded away and were replaced.
And we lost.