Fandom(s): Doctor Who
Characters: The Doctor
Word Count: 1825
Strolling down Totter’s Lane, the old man in the Edwardian frock coat and Karakul hat paid no attention to the people going about their business on the bright London day. He was too preoccupied with his unfruitful search for an elomistenical fuse that had taken the better part of the morning. Not that he had expected to find such a thing on this backwards planet, but he had hoped to find perhaps a junked television that he could scavenge parts from to build his own fuse. Unfortunately, the technology of 1963 was not advanced enough, and would not be so for another twenty years at least. He’d have to figure out another possible source.
As he neared the junkyard, a trio of men standing at the left side of the entrance caught his attention. They were deep in conversation and had not noticed him yet. He was not keen about entering the junkyard, and then the police box inside the junkyard, with them standing there, as he didn’t want them watching him. This group of men were rather odd, standing out a bit from the rest of the London rabble. For one thing, they were all dressed very strangely, wearing neither the roomy solid suit of the businessman, nor the clean casual jacket and shaggy hair of the youngster. The tallest of the bunch wore a long brown overcoat over a form-fitting pin-stripe suit and… white sandshoes? His hands were jammed in his trouser pockets and his short hair stuck up, looking like he’d just gotten out of bed. The youngest one wore a purple frock coat similar to his own, strangely highwater pants, and heavy boots. His hair was also short except for a lock that hung into his eyes. The oldest one - older than he himself appeared - wore a worn leather jacket over a waistcoat, with a red scarf and a bandolier. He’d never seen such an odd collection of costumes. Well, not here on Earth, anyway.
The three men were discussing something that seemed of great importance. He wasn’t close enough to hear the conversation except for the loud exclamations of the youngest one, who moved around while he talked and emphasized everything he said with wide hand motions. They didn’t seem likely to move away on their own, so he decided he would have to ask them to move on. He walked a little closer.
“What are you doing here?” he demanded from about fifteen feet away.
All three men immediately fell silent and turned to the intruder. They seemed reluctant to speak, until Sandshoes nudged the oldest one with his elbow.
“Oh, for gods’ sake! I’d think after all this, you boys would be man enough to speak on your own!” He spoke with a slow, raspy voice and a pleasant, educated accent.
“That’s what we have you for, Granddad.” The youngest one spoke with rushed words, gesturing with his palms up.
“I’m not ‘Granddad.’”
The tall one buried his hands deep in his trouser pockets. “See, Chinny, I told you we should have drawn straws," he said, his London accent clipped and short.
Chinny waved the suggestion away. “Too easy to cheat.”
“Right! I would have cheated it to him!” He jerked his thumb at Granddad.
“Oh, will you two shut up?” Granddad rolled his eyes.
Their observer drew himself up, hands on his lapels. “I asked you, what are you doing here? Hmm?”
Granddad stepped forward, hands clasped behind his back. “We’re here looking for you, Doctor.”
The Doctor rocked back on his heels. “For me? What could you possibly want with me?”
“Your help, of course.”
The Doctor shook his head. “You must be thinking of someone else. I’m afraid whatever you’re here for, it’s none of my business. Off you go.”
Sandshoes stepped out from behind Granddad and circled around the Doctor until he was at the right side of the entrance. Placing his hand on the fence post, he peered into the junkyard. “Oh, no, we’re at the right place, and you’re the right person. It’s been such a long time.”
Chinny walked directly into the junkyard a few feet. “I always meant to come back. Tried to come back, a couple of times. Always had something else to do first. You’d think I of all people could find the time. Looks just the same, doesn’t it?” He spun on his heel to face the Doctor again.
The tall one rocked his head to the side to tap it against the gate post, exasperated. “Of course it looks the same. It is the same.”
The Doctor regarded the tall one, raising his chin. “If you’re so certain that you’re here for me, it is only fitting that you tell me who you are.”
All three men responded at the same time, “I’m the Doctor.”
Astonished, the Doctor looked around at all three of them. “You’re all me?”
Again, all at the same time. “Yes.”
He turned to Granddad. “How many regenerations now?”
The Doctor with the bow tie responded, “Twelve!” Turning his head, the Doctor regarded him with surprise, clearly not expecting the answer to come from him.
“Twelve?” The Doctor in the pinstripes frowned.
“You hogged two!”
Sandshoes scrubbed a hand down around his jaw. “I suppose I did. Forgot about that.”
“So you’re the last one then.” The Doctor looked at Chinny dubiously.
“Surprised me, too,” commented Granddad.
“There must be some great emergency for the High Council to allow all four of us together like this.”
“Big emergency, yes. High Council, no. We’re here on our own.” Chinny punctuated each of his statements by pointing with alternate hands. He continued gesturing as he spoke, demonstrating the shape and size of his words. “Big Time War. Daleks attacking Gallifrey. Winning, too. But we’re going to stop it.” His wide gesture implied not only the four Doctors standing here, but all of them.
"We are?" The Doctor held his head high. "If indeed Gallifrey is falling to the Daleks, I fail to see how even thirteen of us..."
"Twelve," Chinny interrupted, casting an accusatory glance at the tall Doctor.
"Oi! He was better off in Pete's World!" protested Sandshoes.
The Doctor's voice cut across them. "However many of us there are, what are we to do about it?"
Granddad jerked a thumb at the young-looking Doctor. "He came up with a brilliant plan, to lock Gallifrey, the entire planet, in an instant of time, like a stasis cube. When the planet disappears, the Daleks will destroy themselves in the crossfire, and the universe will be safe."
Sandshoes leaned in close to the Doctor, his coat flaring behind him. "It's risky, but it's the only hope we've got. What we need to do it is hundreds of years to do the calculations, and as many TARDISes as we can get to enact the stasis."
The Doctor put a finger to his chin. "The calculations! The ones I started when I first borrowed the old girl. The ones I saw...” Comprehension dawning on his face, he turned to Granddad. “When I saw you, all those years ago.” The man in leather nodded. “So this is what that was all about.”
Chinny beamed, his arms raised in celebration. "Got it right away! See, I was such a clever young man!"
“And now it is time to see the results. Come now. Show me where I need to go." The Doctor turned and strode into the junkyard.
Sandshoes ran a hand through his hair. "Yeah, well, that's not such a good idea.” The Doctor paused and turned back to the three men. “The last time the three of us entered my TARDIS, the desktop started glitching. Can't be a good idea for four of us to be there, is it?" Glaring at the bow tie Doctor, he sniffed, wrinkling his nose for a moment. "I switched the desktop back, but I keep finding your user prefs hidden all over the interface."
"Oh! Well! If you'd keep up with the times, you'd see the way I have it set up is far better," Chinny replied, pointing alternately at Sandshoes and himself.
Granddad rolled his eyes and sighed. "Here, Doctor. These are the coordinates you need." He handed the Doctor a small translucent cube. "We will see you at Gallifrey."
The Doctor nodded. "Certainly. I shall go there directly." He disappeared into the TARDIS, and a minute later, the police box began to emit a cyclic groaning noise and dematerialized.
“That went better than I expected.” Granddad gazed fondly into the junkyard for a few more moments. “I suppose we should get on with calling all the others. Split up, then?”
Sandshoes spoke up quickly. “Right. If you don’t mind, I’d like to see my crickety self again…”
The Doctor in the pinstripes rubbed the back of his neck, a guilty look on his face. “Yeah, well, we had a temporal collision. My fault, really. Managed to not destroy the entire universe. But! I think it’d be best if I tackled my immediate predecessor. He’ll be… tricky.” The three Doctors bent their heads to assign themselves their selves, which took longer than they expected as they negotiated and traded tasks with each other. In the end, two out of three of them were satisfied with the results.
“Oh! Oh! I end up with him!” Chinny pouted, shoulders hunched forward and chin thrust out even further than normal. “While you two get all the easy ones! Not fair!”
Sandshoes threw up his hands in frustration. “It’s completely fair. We drew straws!”
The bow tie Doctor pointed an accusatory finger at the tall one. “You cheated!”
“I cheated? He held the straws!” He jerked a thumb at Granddad.
Chinny turned to his youngest self. “Trade with me. Take him, and I’ll take anyone else.”
“You’ve only got two, while we each have three,” Granddad pointed out. “Man up and just do it."
Sandshoes jammed his hands in his pockets and circled around to the side of his future incarnation, thrusting his chin out to murmur in his ear. “You’d better get to it. No time like the present.” With a wide grin, he pulled back and spun on his heel to stand at Grandad's side.
Chinny stood sulking, shoulders rounded and arms hanging limply at his side. With heavy steps, he dragged himself to his TARDIS.
The tall Doctor sniffed, his nose wrinkling for a moment. "We'd best be off, too."
"Quite right." The oldest-looking Doctor took a few steps, then half-turned back. "You know, I do know how to cheat at straws." He caught Sandshoes' gaze for a moment, then resumed the stroll to his TARDIS.
A hint of a smile dancing in his eyes, the tall Doctor pulled his TARDIS key out of his pocket and strode off, down Totter’s Lane.