Fandom(s): Doctor Who
Characters: The Doctor, the Doctor, a companion, another companion
Word Count: 1995
Apparently, every public place in the universe offered cheap, battered fried food, and this marketplace, supposedly one of the largest and most popular in the galaxy, was no exception. Turlough wasn't quite sure what exactly was in the center of the blob he was holding with three fingers - definitely some kind of white meat, though it also had tentacles sticking out - but it was delicious, and he stuffed it in his mouth without much decorum. Standing by his side, Tegan watched him with curiosity.
"So, you like it?" She was squinting with disbelief at his taste in food.
"I haven't had anything like it in a long time. It's like something from home. Not quite, but close enough." He held up the plate. "Try it."
Tegan shuddered. "No, thanks. I don't like food that can grab onto my tongue." She looked around at the myriad of booths and stalls surrounding them. "They say you can get anything in this bazaar. I'm hoping for fish and chips."
"Best fish and chips are in Brighton," Turlough choked out through a mouthful of wriggle. "You'd think with the TARDIS, we could pop there any time we wanted."
"If we ever were given a choice." She rolled her eyes. "But no, the Doctor goes where he wants, and we're stuck millions of miles from a good beach, eating deep-fried alien."
Turlough eyed her sideways. "Present company excepted, I hope."
Tegan laughed. "I always forget that, that you're not human. Not like the Doctor - he's always alien. But you're so ordinary."
"Thanks a lot."
His sarcastic tone didn't faze her. "That was a compliment. I always wonder why that is."
Turlough was confused. "Why what is?"
"Why there are so many species that look human."
"The Doctor would say we look Time Lord,” he pointed out between mouthfuls.
"Whatever. But look around." She gestured at the crowds of creatures in the bazaar. "All kinds of aliens, all colors, with three eyes, or extra legs, or no visible head, or whatever, and yet so many of them look like us, and they're probably all from different planets. Why is that?"
"It's called convergent evolution. Different species tend towards one specific form, due to similar environmental conditions."
Always contemptuous of Tegan's ignorance, Turlough pursed his lips before speaking. "If the planets two species come from are like each other, their animals tend to evolve to be like each other." Tegan raised an eyebrow. "Yes, it takes a lot of coincidence, but obviously it happens. A lot."
"Wouldn't the odds be astronomical?"
"’That means ‘really good odds.’ The word you want is ‘infinitesimal.’ And it doesn't mean it can't happen, or that it can't happen a lot."
"I'll never understand this stuff." She absent-mindedly plucked the last blob from Turlough's plate and stuffed it in her mouth. It was actually very tasty, enough that she could ignore the tentacles. As she chewed, she surveyed the crowd, then tugged on Turlough's sleeve.
"Hey, look at that guy." She pointed at a tall human-looking man making his way through the throng of people.
Turlough tossed the plate into a nearby bin, then turned and looked him up and down. "What about him?"
Tegan exhaled heavily and cocked her hands on her hips. Her friend always missed the obvious. "He's in a suit and tie. Think he's from Earth?"
Turlough glanced around. All of the other human-looking people in the crowd were wearing various types of clothing: spacesuits, robes, jumpsuits were all common. Tegan was right. The man's suit, similar to what Turlough himself was wearing, would hint at an Earth origin. "Possibly. I don't know any other civilization that came up with hanging a piece of flapping cloth from your neck."
"He's kinda cute,” she murmured.
"Actually, he’s gorgeous. Well, maybe if he combed his hair." She appraised the man again. His short brown hair was a complete mess, but he was definitely a looker, with large expressive eyes and a narrow strong nose, and a trim body. Glancing at Turlough, she saw his scandalized look and decided to embarrass him further. "Tall and slim. Bit of a fox. Do you think we could get the Doctor to take on another person? It's been so lonely in the TARDIS since Nyssa left."
Turlough sputtered. "You... What? Tegan..."
She couldn't keep a straight face. Pointing at him, she doubled over in laughter. "Look at you! You're all red! Your ears!"
Turlough scowled. "Tegan, you...! I don't believe..."
He was interrupted by an unfamiliar voice. "Tegan! Turlough! So good to see you! It's been forever!"
They both turned to see the man in the suit approaching, a broad smile on his face and his hands jammed in his trouser pockets. Neither Tegan nor Turlough had any idea who the man was, and they both unconsciously took a step back. Turlough was the first to find his tongue. "I'm sorry, but I don't think I know you."
"Of course you do! Look at you! Same as ever!" He grabbed Turlough's hand and shook it, then turned to Tegan to give her a hug, but she ducked and slipped away from him, retreating behind her friend.
"No, we don't! Who are you?" she challenged him. She was mentally cataloguing all of the adventures she’d had with the Doctor and Turlough, to figure out where this man fit in, but could not remember him at all.
"Sure you do, Tegan. You'll figure it out. Brave heart." He stepped back and surveyed the crowd. "So, where am I? You haven't seen me around here recently, have you?"
That was enough for Tegan. She slapped her hand to her mouth. "Oh! You're the Doctor!"
Grinning, the Doctor touched his finger to the tip of his nose, then pointed at her, then continued scanning the bazaar.
Turlough stared at both of them in turn. "What? Who's the Doctor?"
Tegan was still gaping at the man in the suit. "He is! He's the Doctor with a different face. He's..." Her eyes snapped to Turlough. "Oh bloody hell! I said he was..." She felt the heat of her blush sweep over her face, and she turned around to hide it.
Turlough stared at her, then at the stranger. Whatever was going on, this man was enjoying Turlough's confusion and Tegan's embarrassment, a wicked grin spread on his face. Turlough stepped forward. "Just who are you?"
"I'm the Doctor. Just not the Doctor you know. I'm from your Doctor's future. And I'm here looking for him." He stood squarely in front of Turlough, his feet planted far apart and his hands clasped behind his back. "Would you happen to know where he is exactly?"
Turlough wrestled with what he'd just been told, but he couldn't understand it. "What? How can you be...?"
From behind the new Doctor's back, a familiar voice called out. "Ah, there you two are. I hope you were able to enjoy yourselves while... Ah!" The blond Doctor in the beige and red coat and cricketing clothes was striding up, but stopped short upon seeing his pinstripe-suited self. "Oh, it's you, Doctor. A pleasure to see you again. Except... Oh, dear. Something must be terribly wrong."
"Hullo, Doctor!" The new Doctor smiled brightly. "It's always a disaster when we meet, isn't it?"
"By definition, it must be." Removing his Panama hat and holding it to his chest, he gazed at his traveling companions. Turlough was still staring at the brown-haired Doctor, a frown crinkling his brow. Tegan had recovered enough to turn back towards the Doctors, but her complexion was still bright pink. "Ah, I see you still take delight in sowing confusion. Skinny idiot," he chided warmly. His future self grinned, his eyes twinkling with mischief.
"Doctor?" Turlough interjected. "Who is this?"
"Ah, Turlough. This is a future version of me. Sometime in the future, I'll change and become him. Not too soon, I hope," he stated airily.
"Oh, not for at least another ten minutes," the Doctor in the suit replied with a cheery grin.
"You change what you look like?" Turlough couldn't believe what he was hearing, but before either Doctor could reply, Tegan put a hand on his arm.
"Yes, he can. I was there when he did it the last time. He used to be taller than him," and she jerked her head at the pin-stripe Doctor, though he only looked taller because his hair stood on end, "with really curly hair and more teeth than anyone should have." Turlough stood there speechless, looking back and forth between the two Doctors.
The blond Doctor turned to the newcomer. “Well, as I said, there must be some pressing reason for you to be here.”
“Right.” The brunette Doctor tugged his ear. “It’s a very long story, but in short, in your future, there will be a great war, between us and the Daleks. The Daleks are at Gallifrey, and the planet will fall. We’ve worked out a plan, to place Gallifrey in a pocket universe, but we need as many TARDISes as we can get to do it.”
“Ah. That sounds like a terrible plan.”
“Well. Take what we can get. There are far worse alternatives.” He pulled a small translucent cube from his pocket and handed to the Doctor, who examined it before closing his hand over it.
“Right. Well, no time like the present. Isn’t that the saying?” His sunny smile didn’t mask the apprehension in his eyes. He turned to his companions. “This shan’t take long. Enjoy the bazaar, and I’ll be back before you know it.” He nodded at them, then turned to his future self. “I shall see you there.”
“Oh, Doctor?” Turlough called, an inscrutable look on his face.
“Yes?” both Doctors answered. They glanced at each other, then the Doctor in pinstripes coughed and stepped back. The cricket-clad Doctor turned to Turlough.
“Tegan wanted to know…”
“Hey!” she exclaimed, grabbing Turlough’s arm to try to shut him up. “Don’t you dare!”
“...if you’d ask him to join the crew.” His exaggerated his enunciation. “She said she’s lonely and he’s, what’d you say? Gorgeous. That’s the word. And a fox. Ow!!” She had cocked him in the ribs.
The Doctor looked his future self up and down, disbelief written plainly across his face. “I’m sorry, but I can’t oblige that particular request, due to the temporal anomalies it would cause, but if you wish, Tegan, you are welcome to join him.”
“What?” Both the woman and the pin-striped Doctor gaped at him.
“Well, certainly. I am sure he would enjoy the pleasure of your company as much as I have, wouldn’t you, Doctor?”
“What?” The Doctor’s mouth formed a perfect “O” as he stared at his former self.
“I thought so.” The beige Doctor smiled happily. “See, Tegan? A splendid arrangement. Of course, your room and possessions are in his TARDIS. You could accompany him immediately.”
While Tegan blushed bright red, the pin-stripe Doctor rubbed the back of his head. “I don’t know if that’s a good idea…”
“Oh, Doctor,” the younger Doctor teased, “you are such an easy mark.” The older Doctor rolled his eyes and gave the younger Doctor a respectful smile. Smirking at his future self, the Doctor placed his hat on his head at a jaunty angle and held up the cube. “You must excuse me. I have an important errand to run. It has been a pleasure seeing you again, Doctor.” He turned and headed off towards his TARDIS.
The remaining Doctor smiled fondly at his former companions. “It was marvelous seeing you both again. Take care of me, won’t you?” He winked, then stepped towards Tegan for a hug. This time she didn’t refuse.
“We always do, Doctor.” A rare smile on his face, Turlough offered his hand and they shook.
The Doctor bowed, “Must be off,” and, spinning on his heel, he strode off, vanishing among the crowd.