Doctor Whatby Elaine Ryan
All standard copyrights apply, and all that stuff, blah, blah, blah, et cetera, et cetera...Everything is liscensed to the BBC--except what isn't--and absolutely all of it is used without permission or prior consent.
The author hereby gives her okey-dokey stamp of approval for this collection of words in a quasi-logical progression to be subsequently and forthwith published on the Internet, and on AOL. If you want to spread the joy around, just make sure you keep my name attached to it.
The Doctor wended her way around the TARDIS console, feverishly tapping the side of her head with the red handle of her question-mark umbrella. Why couldn't she think straight?
Something was ringing.
Whatever the origin of the tumultuous racket, it sounded distinctly high pitched and dreadfully impatient--if it were possible for one to assign emotive attributes to auditory hallucinations, of course.
Looking down at the be-buttoned and be-levered hexagonal console, the Doctor quickly spied the offending contrivance--and there the bugger was--ostensibly contriving to upset the comforting solitude of the console room. The annoying device was nestled amidst the rest of the technological-technobabble-toggles and such-like; surrounded by all of the gadgets and thing-a-ma-jiggers that she loved to pull and tweak and otherwise bother the heck out of.
Deciding at last to answer the call, she picked up the phone and spoke into the receiver with a brightness that belied her present state of confusion: "Hello!"
The Doctor fumed; she detested prank callers...always dredged up uncomfortable memories of how--as a young lad--she'd been caught-out as the precipitator of a communications malfunction that had swept through the Capitol on her home planet of Gallifrey. More specifically, certain personal communications devices attached to certain Time Lord persons had become afflicted with a rather odd sort of behavior. A "behavior" that had an uncanny similarity to the stimulating effects of the human "joy buzzer." (But that was just icing on the cake. After all, humans were quite possibly her most favorite species.)
Finally, the silence was broken and a man's voice came through the receiver: "You're on my phone line!"
The Doctor creased her brow and screwed up her face angrily. "What do you mean, 'your phone line'? I've had this number for years! And may I add that it's supposed to be an ex-directory number!"
A loud string of curses in the fast polyglottal tongue of Old High Gallifreyan issued from the ear piece, causing the Doctor to snatch the handset away from her highly sensitive auditory canal in distress. Instinctively, she lowered the the oscillatory vibration range of her right ear's tympanic membrane in defense.
The curses were followed by an exclamation, in effect, giving the two-fingered salute to the latent recessive polymorphic influences of her family's gene pool--the worst insult to any higher form of Gallifreyan.
The Doctor slammed the phone down, cutting off any more sharp remarks and found her empty hand connecting with the TARDIS console. The time-space machine never had a phone before. What was going on?
Pushing the oversized, crumpled fedora with the gaudy paisley hat band out of her eyes for the second time, the Doctor looked up, startled, as a throat was cleared noisily on the opposite side of the white-on-white console room.
A small human was staring at the confused Gallifreyan angrily, hands steadfastly fixed onto a set of petite hips. "Pardon me--" she began warily.
The Doctor squinted at the woman. "Quiet Mel," she said. "Or I'll let that 'Paradise Towers' pool cleaner have you for real this time."
"My name isn't Mel!" the stranger retorted furiously. "I want to know what you were doing just a moment ago!"
Suddenly, it occured to the Doctor that the fiasco with the telephone had been witnessed. But why in the name of Rassilon's nanny didn't she recognize the strange Tellurian confronting her?
The Time Lord planted both hands on the gently sloping, quietly humming console and leaned forward. "Who are you? And what are you doing in my TARDIS?"
The woman looked momentarily surprised. "You're not joking, are you?" she said, almost stumbling over the words. "I'm Sharon."
A blank look.
"Sharon, your companion," she continued with growing trepidation.
A blank look and a blink of the eyes.
My companion? the Doctor mused. Pictures began to flash through her mind: a young girl with long brown hair and sunglasses, stuffed into a shining skin-tight body suit--Ace? No, this person before her certainly wasn't Ace. Benny? Nope, it wasn't the Professor. Surely someone after Chris and Roz, though.
"Doctor?" Sharon called.
The Time Lord took her hands off of the console and stood up proudly, if not four to five inches shorter than she'd been used to. "You were expecting someone else, perhaps?" she snapped. "Maybe the local Trans-Dimensional Interior Decorating Service?"
Sharon tried her best not to sneer derisively. "You must have really lost your marbles when you regenerated. How much do you remember? And don't try to shirk this off with one of your mysterious and secretive Time Lord moods. Unlike Jack, I can tell when you're trying to keep something from me."
Regeneration? thought the Doctor. No wonder I'm acting stranger than I usually do. No wonder the clothes don't fit anymore. She discreetly rolled up the cuffs of her rumpled cream-colored linen jacket and looked up, opening her mouth to form a reply.
She was cut off rudely by the woman, now using a pointed finger to emphasize her words. "And I saw you answer a non-existent phone and talk to someone on the non-existent other end."
Damn, didn't this woman miss anything? Disconcerted, the Doctor swung around in self-conscious vexation, barely concealing it by tapping one foot.
The infuriating woman continued unabashed. "And I bet that awful scene had something to do with the guilt you must be feeling for not being connivingly suggestive enough to rescue Jack from a fate worse than death."
Blast, blast, blast, exclaimed the Doctor without even opening her mouth. If there was at least one thing she knew of this latest incarnation, it was a blazing hatred for being pigeonholed in any form of a useless and embarrassing--and totally human--emotional feeling. Guilt, indeed!
She turned back to the woman--to Sharon--and patted herself on the back for the look of cool superiority she had managed to adopt. "Madam, I have no idea what you're raving about. There's absolutely nothing wrong with me."
Sharon was unimpressed. "What I want to know, is why you're a woman instead of a man?"
The Doctor's face drained of color, taking on a grey ashen tone. "What?" she squeaked, taking flight towards the full-sized mirror standing on the other side of the room.
In her rush, she tripped over the several-sizes too large brown-and-tan brogues and slouching pant legs, displacing the precariously perched fedora from her head. She dragged herself the rest of the way across the room and stared into the lower half of the mirror from hands and knees. A pretty, twenty-something face with shoulder length light brown and naturally wavy tresses stared back at her through a pair of bright green eyes.
Oh well, she thought, at least the green eyes will lose all of that crap in the New Adventures about: "were his eyes grey... or were they blue?"
Now, as far as the being a woman thing went, well, as another of her incarnations would have said: "You have to take the rough with the smooth", and boy, did she look smooth.
The Doctor interrupted herself with a worrisome thought: what had that old windbag Borusa warned about taking a fancy to yourself? And why hadn't she noticed the sagging clothes and what must now be the totally alien feel of men's underwear? Did this mean that she would display a predilection for wearing baggy paisley boxer shorts? Ugh, she cringed at the thought.
Seeing Sharon glaring at her in the mirror, she stood carefully, rolling up her pants on the way. "My system must have been saturated with an unnaturally high level of estrogen at the onset of this last regeneration. If I were on Gallifrey, regeneration therapy would undoubtedly take care of it." She tried to sound smug, and did a mental double take as she realized that the male voice on the phone--insulting the purity of her ancestry--had been a cumulative representation of her previous selves trying to shock her mind into realizing the stark change their body had undergone.
"Doctor, what about Jack?" Sharon said. "We need to go back to Sholus VII. Something terrible has probably happened to him."
"Nonsense," countered the Doctor, tousling her new hair. "I'm sure that with my heightened sense of intuition in this incarnation, I can have us back there a mere second after we left!"
Sharon wanted to argue, but the Time Lord waved her to silence. "No, first things first, I want to look my best before going out, you know. And these ridiculous clothes won't do at all." She looked down at herself and flicked a piece of lint off of the lapel. "I really don't know what my previous seventh persona meant when he said he'd regained his sense of haute couture, this outfit is terrible! Wrinkled and baggy is definitely not my style." She sauntered out of the console room through the inner door, trying to get the hang of a pair of shapely legs that were suddenly attached to a completely different set of hips.
Sharon shook her head and demurely followed the Time Lord to the wardrobe room.
Back on Sholus VII, Jack had just dealt the first deck of cards to the other players at the table: Aces and fives were wild.
The Doctor tore quickly through boxes and racks of clothes, throwing rejections in crumpled heaps around the room. Swiftly shorning out of the linen suit and silk shirt, she pulled on a practical pair of jeans, and rolled them up at the cuffs.
Then she descended upon a large box next to the wall and began furiously rummaging about inside, easily managing to bury the entire top half of her body. She pulled out a long-sleeved green shirt and shrugged it on.
Finally, flipping through dozens of racks that could have been found in the best tailor's shop, or circus clown's wardrobe, she snatched a beautiful gilded brocade waist coat in beige, russet and bronze. To this panoply of striking garniture, she added a chocolate-colored tailored suit-jacket that was attractively shaped at the waist.
After replacing all of her shiny, beeping and whirring gadgets and gizmos that no Time Lord with dimensionally transcendental pockets should be without, she pulled on a pair of Nike trainers and headed back to the console room--she could finish preening there in the mirror after she set the coordinates for where-ever they had left this Jack person.
On the way out of the wardrobe room, she almost collided with Sharon. Her startled companion was just entering through the door as the Time Lord motored out, completely transformed.
The Doctor looked around the console room, rubbing her hands together briskly, and with much aplomb. "So," she began cheerily, "Be a good chap and tell me what were we up to."
Sharon stared at her witheringly. "Jack, Doctor. Remember? We need to get back to Sholus VII to rescue him from the Ogrons! Those baboons'll probably have him roasting slowly, and with very little garnish, over a spit of mesquite-flavored firewood."
"Nonsense! Still, we'd better check on the old boy." The Doctor started rummaging through her pockets.
In a flutter and flurry of multi-colored stick-it notes covered with specs of brown lint, she pulled out assorted objects, stacking them in a pile on top of the console: a genuine first-casting Malus Screamer yo-yo; a somewhat battered and bent sonic screwdriver; a small can of Trakenite pepper mace; a jar of Instant Fantom Visibility Spray; Granny Flavia's Special Recipe Garlic Jerky, for those embarrassing encounters with vampire chickens; Tellurian-flavored chunks for luring Androgums away from your friends; a Tharil good-luck foot; a Nimon Locator to warn of the close proximity of any bad monster effects, and a dead body...a dead body??
Sharon looked in amazed fascination at the varied objects piled on top of the console. "So, that's why they never found Jimmy Hoffa."
Slightly abashed and irritated (and trying desperately to keep a straight face so the scene wouldn't have to be redone), the Doctor snapped, "Dimensionally transcendental clothes are a key Time Lord discovery!"
The Doctor continued to scowl and disappeared up to the elbow into one of the pockets. Her hand came out clutching varicolored pieces of sparkling confetti from the UNIT Christmas party of '72. "Well, obviously I forgot to remind myself in the future to nip back and leave a note for me in one of these pockets...always so handy knowing what's going to happen before the other sucker does. Oh well, back to the old days." The Doctor smiled. "This makes me feel nostalgic."
"Doctor, please!" Sharon insisted. "Will you cease with this childish prattle, time is passing!"
The Doctor gaped at her companion sideways. "You stole that line! Disembodied hand episode, wasn't it?" She shivered theatrically. "Never did like items of anatomy walking about like they owned the place."
Sharon continued to scowl.
The Time Lord sighed and then clapped her hands to gether loudly. "Right then, time to nip back to Nostrilitus Giganticus to pick up Jack!"
"Doctor, Jack is on Sholus VII!"
"Right!" Her hands flew over the console, programming the return coordinates. Without looking, she stabbed a finger over her shoulder at Sharon. "Be careful, your bossiness is starting to remind me in some strange and peculiar ways to the Rani."
"Who's the Rani?"
"I suppose she's best summed up, on the whole, by her emotionally characteristic similarity to American brands of English tea: dull, boring, and bitter as hell."
With the agonized cacophonous groan of battered and abused engines, the time/space machine known as the TARDIS, materialized next to a small group of dirty Ogrons--known throughout the galaxy as being particularly fond, on the whole, with any form of lewd or scatological humour-- clustered about a fragile card table.
Inside the blue police box--which wasn't a police box at all--there was a ding! from the console as the multifarious blinking lights encased within the central time rotor blinked slower, until they weren't blinking any more, and relaxed to a steady sort of steadiness.
"Ah," said the Doctor, trying very hard to ignore the previous sentence, "we've arrived."
The double doors on the box swung inward, somehow managing not to crush the two people inside against its back wall, and the Doctor breezed out, followed by Sharon.
Jack, the Doctor's other companion at the time was sitting, as well as he could manage with a modicum of dignity, at one of the chairs at the table. He was contentedly smiling one of his "doggy smiles" at one of the Ogrons as he shuffled a pack of creased and crumpled playing cards, and dealt to the remaining primatial anthropoid-creatures.
Sharon was constantly amazed at the ease with which the Canoid accomplished almost any task without the aid of an opposable thumb. Quite the contrary, on Canus Major, Jack had been a dealer at the Crystal Cat Club in the poker room.
Jack's pink and frothy tongue lolled out the side of his pointy-toothed mouth. He noticed Sharon and winked suggestively at her good-looking companion. "Hey, baby," he called. "Yowza."
Sharon guffawed while the Doctor cleared her throat and plucked halfheartedly at her lapels with twitching fingers.
Jack nearly fell off of his chair as realization struck him like a ton of wet cat litter. He did adouble take: Sharon and...the Doctor? Sharon and...THE DOCTOR (!!) "Wh...wh...wh...wha...?"
The Doctor sauntered up to the rickety table and leaned over one of the Ogron's hirsute setaceous backs. "Close your mouth, Jack, and quit stammering, you'll start to slob." She gagged as a whiff of Ogron assaulted her nasal pasages with a predatory sting: sweaty leather, unwashed skin, and stale beer (at least she decided to think of it as beer). In defense, she engaged her respiratory by-pass system.
Jack caught his breath. "We were all just reminiscing."
"Interesting word for it, yes. Remember what I told you about taking advantage of evolutionarily inferior species?"
Jack smiled nervously.
The Ogron noticed the Doctor glancing over his shoulder at his cards and he clutched them to his chest protectively. "Not fair, no peek with eyes that wander, or such, at Brun's cards!"
Sharon stifled a giggle as the Doctor leaned back, feinting embarrassment. She straightened her brocade waist coat with a proper downward snap of both hands. "So sorry, old chap, won't happen again."
The Doctor sidled back over to her companion quietly and drew up next to her, leaning in conspiratorially. "I've seen smarter things running about a barnyard with their heads chopped off."
They looked at the group huddled around the table as Jack shuffled the next round and dealt.
"Well, do you have any bright ideas?" Sharon whispered. She was used to the Doctor knowing what was going to happen before what was going to happen knew what was going to happen was going to happen knew what was going to happen....
The Doctor slapped her. "Stop that!"
The Doctor sighed. "An infinite regression. If I hadn't hit you when I did to break you out of the cycle...well, you could have been lost forever." Her voice faded softly.
Sharon turned her head slowly to glance at the Time Lord.
The old Gallifreyan was standing quite still, with eyes closed, mouth hanging slightly open. At closer inspection, Sharon realized that she wasn't breathing.
Must be thinking, mused Sharon hopefully.
The Doctor suddenly wobbled violently--buckling at the knees--and in a totally graceless movement, fell flat on to the ground. "Drat!" she exclaimed, hyperventilating, "I guess I've lost my touch. I wonder if some of the Time Lord abilities are gene coded? As in: Y, you got it, X you don't."
She hopped up, gratefully using Sharon's proffered hand.
"Don't worry," Sharon remarked. "No one saw your graceless swoon except Jack. Although, I must say that it was the best impression I've ever seen of a Gallifreyan with a snootfull. Did you learn anything?"
"Not a jot. I was too busy asphyxiating. Oh well, I guess a little improvisation is called for."
Sharon sighed. "Do you think it would help if I did a strip tease?"
"Only if I can find an anatomically correct ape suit for you in the TARDIS. Besides, I can't back you up with a raunchy rendition of 'Va Va Va Voom' on the spoons. I've left them in my other jacket."
"Wait, I've got an idea," Sharon cut in. "You spring a diversion and I'll grab Jack."
"Why am I always the one responsible for the diversion?" the Doctor whined.
"All right," Sharon acquiesced, "I'll grab Jack after you've sprung the diversion."
Sharon moved quickly to follow the Doctor as the Time Lord walked back to the table, stopping at the Ogron to Jack's right. She pointed at Brun across the table. "He peeped at your cards," she said. "I saw him! He's trying to cheat you."
"What stupid-like broad say?" grumbled Brun.
"I hear, she say Brun make dumb and look at Grun's cards."
"Brun no cheat! No way, now how, buster. Brun not make dumb and look at Grun's cards."
"Well, Grun," the Doctor said. "Brun says you're mistaken. How do you feel about that?"
"I say, he cheat. He always cheat! This time Grun catch him in the acting of it all."
The Doctor continued. "Brun, Grun seems to think that your mother likes rotten bananas and your father always misses the tree when he swings. What do you think?"
"Brun think Grun always look better with broken nose and fat lip! Brun know just the Ogron to do it!"
"Ha - ha - ha! Brun give Grun broken nose and fat lip? Grun thinks he not half fast enough for monkey-boy!"
"Laugh, ho - ho! Maybe Brun not fast enough, but brother Xon is."
"Me Xon, stupid!"
The playing cards, the card table and all the chairs flew into the air as the fight broke out. With all ostensible haste, the three time travelers ran for the TARDIS and jumped inside. The wooden double doors slapped together like a gun-shot.
From the relative safety of the console room, the Doctor, Jack and Sharon watched the fight for a few moments before the Doctor closed the view screen.
"I thought you'd left me here for good," Jack panted.
"Well, at any rate," the Doctor responded. "I see you've put your card dealer skills into use."
"Yeah, had to think of something to occupy them. I remember you told me that they were crazy about gambling and dumber than a brick tree house. I could've made a fortune if they'd had any money." He gestured a large paw at the closed TARDIS door. "I wish some of these apes would have visited the casino I worked in, but all we ever got was stupid humans that walked about two steps into the room, and gaped open-mouthed, comparing the casino to some Tellurian painting called 'Dogs playing poker'." Jack finished with a chuckle and the Doctor eyed him sternly.
"Jack," the Time Lord warned, "I don't want to hear any jokes about what you get when the proliferation of subsequent Gallifreyan masculine incarnations is interrupted with a highly recessive and also highly improbable female-type persona."
"Well, what do you get? A Time Lord with perpetual PMS?"
The Doctor scowled, "Unfortunately, you're probably more correct than you can imagine. Still, we can hope for the best."
Sharon piped up, "If you start craving salt and chocolate bonbons, the only sympathy you're going to get out of me is a heating pad."
"I'd say 'brave heart', Sharon, but I'm afraid I might be forced to slap myself silly."
"Still," continued Jack, "You aren't going to go about hanging pink curtains in the TARDIS, are you?"
"Certainly not! I hate pink, green is much nicer!" The Doctor slapped him on the front leg. "Of course I wont do an inane, totally mentally absent thing like that. What do you take me for, a human female? Besides, I'm not sure whether I like curtains, or Venusian Blinds better. Although, why you humans call them Venusian, I'll never know. The Venusians were quite decent really, but they died out long before anything remotely bi-pedal walked upon that sad planet of yours."
"Doctor," said Sharon, "They're called Venetian Blinds, not Venusian."
"I knew that." The Doctor, with the adjustment of a few candy-colored buttons and levers, relaxed visibly as the time rotor began its steady movement.
Sharon had already dropped into the comfortable chair against the wall, and Jack had just finished-up giving his bottom a cursory tongue-rasping. Everything was in order now.
The Doctor headed for the inner door to the TARDIS, and turned slightly at Sharon's question: "Did you ever land the TARDIS on the Ogron's home world?"
The Time Lords eyes twinkled. "Yes, and the chameleon circuit was working then, too. It wasn't easy climbing up and down twenty feet of deciduous tree every time I wanted to go somewhere." She smiled at the memory. "And it wasn't very inconspicuous when my present companion at the time opened the TARDIS doors and walked out without looking, screaming 'bloody hell!' all of the way down to the jungle floor. Hmm, I believe his name was Chris something-or-other. Always got his last name wrong, anyway."
Jack's tongue lolled in another approximation of a smile. "That's nothing compared to the ruckus the TARDIS caused when she landed in my casino on Canus Major."
"Yes," the Doctor agreed, "I didn't think anything'd be left of the old girl after that."
Jack watched the Time Lord exit and then walked over to his doggy bed in the corner. He circled three times, in accordance with his people's ritual to ward off evil bug-infestation spirits, and settled down to nap--dreaming of dog biscuits and eight foot tall blue cats.
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