AN: This has percolated in my computer for a while. I am still working on it, but needed a bit of a break from my "Seasons" X-files fic and decided to throw this out there. Enjoy!
Bugger all if his shoulder didn't hurt.
The doors of the TARDIS slammed shut behind him as he practically fell inside, his key still clutched against his frantically beating hearts. Not the first close shave he'd had in his exceedingly long life, but certainly one of the nearest. He could practically feel the razor burn as he stumbled up off the metal grating, his leather boots digging as he threw himself towards the console.
"Got to get us out of here, old girl, before they start bringing out the torches and pitchforks." He muttered more to himself than the ship; though he could sense the presence of the TARDIS grow alarmed, not just at the growing crowd of agitated townsfolk preparing to beat down her door, but at the battered state of her owner, looking as if he had barely made it out of a nice burning at the stake.
Which of course is exactly what had happened, he informed her quietly, and no he didn't wish to discuss it.
"All my fault, really," he muttered. "I should have caught on that they would have reacted that way the minute they dropped the word 'witch'." How was he supposed to know that the peaceful planet of Paceium was in fact a backwoods little hellhole where a sonic screwdriver would cause a riot? Even as he glanced at the screen to the view outside, he could see the crowds gathering, shouting epitaphs in their native tongue basically to the effect that he was a demon sent by the gods to corrupt them with magic.
"Right, well, so much for living the life of adventure," he sighed, jamming coordinates in to somewhere, anywhere, he didn't care where, as long as it wasn't where he and the TARDIS were sitting right at that moment. Already he could hear the ominous sounds of breaking branches and a quick check on the view outside confirmed his suspicion. They were dragging trees over, whether to batter down the door or try to carry him off, he didn't know. He doubted they could get through the force field, but tipping over the TARDIS…that they might just do.
"Think you can get us out of here," he whispered, pulling levers and jamming buttons as the all too familiar, whining, grinding sound of his ancient machine coming to life filled the console room. Outside the milling crowd stopped and began screaming, horrified by the flashing blue light and the strange, deafening noise. He chuckled, as before their eyes his blue police box seemed to melt into nothingness.
"Right," he finally breathed as around him the TARDIS hummed with the sound of the Vortex. It took the edge off of his frantic energy as he found himself dropping heavily into the jump seat nearby, his shoulder aching with the impact. He reached long fingers to massage it under his leather coat, which of course now smelled liked burnt and singed Time Lord. Gah!
Another lovely day, the Doctor thought to himself dryly, resting his head back as he grimaced at the pain. He'd had to dislocate his shoulder just to get it around enough to wiggle his sonic screwdriver out of his pocket. That had been the worst bit, trying to manage that as the flames of the fire roared to life around him, the cheers of the Paceiumi ringing into the night as they tried to burn out their much-feared "witch". Really, he couldn't fault them for their reaction, when he thought about it. He doubted the purple-skinned creatures had ever seen anything more advanced that a mortar and pestle in their civilization. And here he was, the great and mighty Time Lord, showing up with a flying hut and holding light in the palm of his hand. He hadn't been thinking, really, he'd just wanted to go there to check out a bit of the local culture, to go to a place that was quiet and peaceful, without any technology that was blowing up or people that needed saving. That was what he got for thinking that even a renegade Time Lord could ever have a moment's quiet to himself.
The TARDIS tried to hum sympathetically, but really he wasn't in the mood.
"Not now," he sighed, feeling the joint of his shoulder pop back into place as he shifted it, the muscles aching as they relaxed into their proper position. Since his regeneration into this hard, angular, angry form, his ship had felt the need to mollycoddle him. And he usually wasn't up for it.
"Take us somewhere…anywhere, I don't care." He waved a hand in the general direction of the console. He thought for a moment. "Someplace a little less primitive. But nothing too advanced, I'm not fit for that." Frankly he had no idea what he was in the mood for. All he knew was that he wanted to be…somewhere. He needed to feel a world beneath his feet, to feel people around him, to feel life.
Something to fill this cold void inside.
The TARDIS hummed and whined, her engines groaning as she shifted course in time and space, and the Doctor closed his eyes, allowing his ship to do the choosing. Really, what was the purpose of having an aware ship if it couldn't make the decisions for him once in a while? He was tired of making choices, of having to consider and weigh the options. Which would be the lesser evil, a balmy place or a cold one, pasta or curry, beer or wine, let everyone and everything he had ever known die or let the universe crumble into chaos and extinction.
Running, running, catch me if you can. He was always running, trying to outrun those decisions, those consequences, and those painful memories. He had no home, he had no people, and he had no establishment to rebel against anymore. Funny how he had spent so much of his life running from something and now that it was all gone he couldn't seem to make himself stop.
Stop…that was what the engines did as his eyes popped open to the suddenly silent TARDIS, feeling that the ship had physically come to a standstill, even if the world in which she had landed on had not. He leaned curiously forward to glance at the readouts as to where they were, wondering just where the old girl had decided to deposit them.
"Earth….again?" He tapped at the screen just to make sure it was right. "Twenty first century, eh? What's so interesting about all of that?"
Of course the TARDIS couldn't directly respond, but his screen did flash, symbols from a now long-dead language scrolling across it rapidly.
"You're kidding?" Well that was a surprise. "How did the Nestene Consciousness end up here again? I thought we had managed to get them all the last time."
Clearly they hadn't, as the TARDIS readings indicated that there they were somewhere in London. Well, he hadn't dealt with Autons or the Nestene in a while, it was certainly better than being tied up and roasted like a suckling pig.
"Right, we got any anti-plastic about," he wondered as he tried to recall where he had put it last.