Fandom(s): Doctor Who
Characters: The Doctor, the Doctor, a companion
Word Count: 1621
With a fishing pole clutched in one hand and a small tackle box dangling from the other, the Doctor stepped out of the TARDIS, letting the door close and latch behind him. Transferring the box to the hand with the pole, he grabbed the umbrella and folding chair leaning against the side of the police box and began strolling down the rocky path leading to the lake. A sunny, relaxing day at the water’s edge, followed by a sumptuous fish dinner, was just what the Doctor ordered.
As he stepped out of the copse of trees that lined the banks of the lake and arrived at his chosen spot, it did not please him to see another figure, not thirty feet down the shoreline. Dressed in a purple coat and a dark bow tie, he was dashing back and forth, picking up rocks, examining them, and skimming them into the lake, all the while excitedly talking to no one in particular.
“Thing is, it’s not just the flatness of the stone - like this very one - that makes it ideal for skimming. You need the right angle. Oh, this one’s perfect! And a strong arm. Can’t forget the arm strength. I don’t have much arm strength. This stone’s rubbish. And you have to spin the stone while you throw. I could build a skimming machine. I would call it my stone skimmer. It would skim the stone at just the right angle. And spin it. Skimmer and spinner. Spin it and skim it.”
Grimacing in disgust, the Doctor was about to turn and walk down the shore to find a more peaceful spot when one of the man’s gyrations faced him directly at the arriving fisherman. Pointing with a hand still holding a flat rock, the man called out, “Ah, yes, you’re here! I arrived a bit too early. Forgot exactly when I landed. Right hour, wrong day. Took three tries to get the right one.”
The Doctor dropped the chair, box, and umbrella, but continued to hold the fishing pole in his left hand. “You are looking for me? Who are you, and what do you want?” he asked as the man approached.
He seemed not to have heard the questions. Putting on a pair of round-rimmed glasses, he hunched forward, peering at the Doctor’s clothing. “Just as I remembered! The colors are far brighter in the sunlight. Actually, it’s the light that is brighter. The colors themselves don’t change.” He straightened, his arms wide. “Dazzling!”
Interpreting the statement as sarcasm, the Doctor drew himself up, used to the criticisms leveled at his manner of dressing. “You cretins have no appreciation for the sartorial arts. My taste is impeccable, and this coat in particular has won awards.”
The man circled around the Doctor, viewing his outfit from all angles. “Exactly! That’s just what I say! Well, it’s just what you said, but I completely agree. Now, I wouldn’t wear it, but I still keep it around.”
The Doctor’s eyebrow arched. “Just who are you? Your manner of speaking is singular, but your circumlocutions sound just like mine.”
The man’s face lit up and he waggled a finger at the Doctor's chest.. “Exactly! I knew you'd know me right off." He tore off his glasses and dropped them in a pocket.
With his free hand, the Doctor grasped his coat by the lapel and thrust his chin out in pride. “You claim to be a future me? You will excuse me if I require some proof.”
“Oh! Oh! Right!” Tossing the skimming rock aside, the supposed future Doctor reached in a pocket and pulled something out. Holding his hand out in front of the Doctor, he opened it to reveal a handful of cat pins, one of which matched the one on the Doctor’s lapel. “You see, I still have them all.”
The Doctor gazed down his nose at them. “Humpf. I suppose those are proof enough, or you are a very thorough thief. So, you are my future, though your appearance is that of a very young man.” Like his fellow self, he started circling the young-looking Doctor to check him up and down from all sides. “Please tell me that you are not my next-in-line. I should be disappointed to think that I will degenerate so much in one change.”
The Doctor in the purple coat drew back with a wounded expression. “Oi! I knew you’d be like this! Never change, do you?”
“I certainly hope I do not, if this is the result!”
“Doctor!” a female voice called.
Both men turned and spoke at the same time. “Yes, Peri?” “Ah, Peri! So good to see you!”
The girl who had just arrived, carrying a large container and wearing a multi-colored blouse and shorts, stopped in her tracks, confusion plain on her face. She stared first at the man she didn’t know, then turned to the Doctor holding the fishing pole and asked, “Is everything all right, Doctor?”
“Everything is perfectly satisfactory, Peri. Go along and get to your sunbathing. Down over there looks like a fine spot. Leave the supplies high on the beach.” He gestured quite a ways down the shoreline.
“Uh, okay, Doctor.” The Doctor seemed to be trying to hide something, and suspicious that things weren’t “perfectly satisfactory,” she gave them both a wide berth as she headed to the indicated spot, continuing to stare at the unknown man until she passed them.
“What’d you do that for? I’d like to have said hi,” the young-looking Doctor asked, waving his hands in frustration.
“Can’t let her see me like you. She’s already seen who I used to be. It is mortifying.” The Doctor in the gaudy coat pursed his lips in contempt.
“This! This is why I didn’t want to come here!” Turning on the spot, the bow tie man raised his eyes to the sky, holding his hands palm up at shoulder height as if in supplication. “I know you cheated, matchstick man! Don’t know how you did it, but I know!” He spun on his heel and stepped up to his former self. “You’re even worse than I remember. Oo, you think you’re so good. Pompous, arrogant, and so full of yourself.” He poked him in the chest with each adjective.
The Doctor was unperturbed. "Where there is a real superiority of mind, pride will always be under good regulation,” he quoted. “You appear to be nothing but a garrulous scamp. No grace, no style, no maturity. I had always thought my immediate predecessor was the furthest I could fall, but apparently I was incorrect."
The younger-looking Doctor clapped his hands to the top of his head. “I would never have come here if we didn’t need your help.”
The Doctor smiled triumphantly. “And now, out it comes. Of course you must require me for something, risking paradox to come here. What have you gotten me into, boy?”
He stepped closer to his former self and stared directly into his eyes. “Not me. The Time War. Your future, my past. Daleks attacking Gallifrey and the planet’s going to fall. We have a plan to lock it in an instant of time, but we need as many TARDISes as we can get to to do it.”
The Doctor stared back at his future self while he processed the information, his expression dark and serious. After a quarter of a minute, he stated, “I surmise that you’ve already started the calculations. Quite a long time ago.”
“We did, yes.”
“Excellent. Then there is nothing left to discuss. I shall do my part. This endeavour certainly shall not succeed without my assistance.” As the Doctor turned towards his equipment, the man in tweed rolled his eyes.
The Doctor bent to pick up the chair, umbrella, and tackle box, then strode towards Peri. “Peri, I have some business to attend to with my associate, and I’ll be taking the TARDIS.” The girl, who had disrobed and was lying on her towel in a bathing suit, opened her eyes and raised herself on her elbow to gaze at the Doctor. “I shall leave my equipment here. Go ahead and enjoy your relaxation. Stay out of the water, though. We both know how that will turn out.”
She furrowed her brow and sat up. “Where are you going? Can’t I come with you?”
He piled his things nearby. “Not this time, Peri. It is a small task. No point in postponing your sunbathing. I shan’t be long, and I shall pick up my fishing then.”
“Oh, ok, Doctor. I’ll be here.” She turned to the Doctor’s friend. “Watch out for him. He’s a troublemaker.” She smiled, then laid back down and closed her eyes.
“Oh, don’t I know it? Always has been,” the bow tie Doctor quipped. He grinned at the curly-haired Doctor, who, nose in the air, turned to walk towards his TARDIS. The other Doctor fell in with his step and held out a small translucent cube. “Here’s the coordinates. You won’t catch a single thing here, you know.”
“What happened to the prohibition against giving your past self foreknowledge? Oh, I’m sure there’s some nonsense going on about crossed timelines and not being able to remember, isn’t there?” Smirking, he took the cube. “I will see you there.” He disappeared among the trees.
As soon as he was out of sight, the young-looking Doctor jumped and punched the air, then strode off. “Glad to be done with that. Easy! I told them it would be simple. I have great diplomatic skills. Natural diplomat, that’s me!” He continued convincing himself of his triumph all the way back to his TARDIS.