I N T E R L U D E
By Patricia Martin Anders
The alien planet was a teeming with life, a virtual swampy world.
Suddenly without warning an indistinct bulky, blurred shape with a pail yellow light flashing above it, wobbled uncertainly in the drifting ever-present mist, but very quickly it became a more solid and substantial object. And was accompanied by a square wave, elephantine sound which gradually grew louder then quickly echoed away. The light now very bright went out and silence fell once more to the marsh. Well, as silent as a swamp ever is. Reeds all around the very heavy container had been squashed into the mud and then it began to slowly tilt to one side, stopping finally at a very steep angle. A pair of very excited human sounding voices came from inside the shabby, blue-painted object, gradually growing louder. The very chipped and mottled panelling of what appeared to be a proper British police call box of the type so common during the later part of the 20th Century, earth, all but finished toppling over when a pair of double doors literally flew open. But appearances could be deceiving. And in this particular case, what appeared to be a simple communication device for people to call for assistance and used by the British Bobbies to temporarily lock up criminals for later transport, was in reality a 30th century Space/Time machine from the planet Gallifrey called a TARDIS.
A very tall man bounded from the leaning box leaping to what he hoped was solid ground. He was dressed in a brown jumpsuit and lighter brown leather coat with tan fur trim, and he wore an enormously long white scarf wound several times around his neck. A brown fur Russian cap was perched over the jumbled mass of his graying brown curly hair. He surveyed the scene round him with a wide sweep of his huge, inquisitive blue eyes.
"All clear older thing," he teased to the open TARDIS.
"Coming, Doctor," a very pleasant voice answered.
The Doctor grinned warmly.
"Stay . . . stay K9, swamps are no place for computerized canines," her voice commanded.
"Affirmative, Mistress," a very mechanical voice answered back.
"Just continue working on those sums I gave you and the Doctor and I will be back before you even think to miss us."
"Affirmative, Doctor, Mistress. Enjoy your interlude."
"Good dog, K9, we plan to," the voice assured.
"Incoming, old thing!" the slender woman cried, leaping from the craft, deftly coming to rest beside her waiting companion. This Doctor was dressed very much like the other Doctor with the most notable difference being the vast dissimilarity in size. Yet her soft hazel eyes reflected well her anticipation of the soon to begin adventure. Turning back towards the TARDIS she commanded. "Close the doors K9."
"Affirmative, Mistress, " K9 complied in his secondary voice pattern.
With a distinct whirring the double doors popped and locked tight.
"How does he do that?"
"Sound like you? You programmed him to, Dokk-tor!" she huffed. "My wedding present from you, remember?"
"No, I mean close and lock the doors that way, K9 … no handed!" he teased.
"A tight beam, infrared transmission over a short span?"
"Sounds good to me," the Doctor concurred.
As one they began to lean in the direction of the tilted TARDIS.
"I thought the Leaning Tower leaned in the other direction," the Doctor observed.
"I thought the TARDIS was supposed to correct for things like that," observed the little Doctor.
Then she quickly changed her tact. "Are you sure we are at right place, Pi?" she asked, invoking the Doctor’s pet name.
"Could there be another place like this in the Universe, Bit?" he answered her, using her nickname.
"I hardly think so," she said, shaking her head soundly.
Warily the smaller Doctor looked round again at the steamy marshlands surrounding them.
"Should I happen to be eaten by a bog, you will come in and drag me out won't you, Doctor?" she ventured hopefully.
The Doctor chuckled with his deep resonant baritone. "Without question, Doctor. I have gotten somewhat use to the also curly headed, tag-a-long," he said, very tenderly stroking her cheek. "Even though she does annoy me with her constant flute playing, and every day sees her hair going grayer and grayer."
Taking her tiny chin into his enormous hands the Doctor gently kissed the tip of her tiny nose. Though his next words to the little Doctor had a very ominous ring to them, the expression on his face was one of utter, teasing delight. "I think, I would miss The Shadow, if she were to suddenly disappear, even if she is leftarmed and wears 'outchy' things in her ears."
"Then lead on, Mac-Dokk!" the little Doctor gestured expansively, softly chuckling. Well, she liked her pierced earrings with their slender question marks engraved upon them, and never considered herself totally dressed without them. Besides, she quickly rationalized, it helped people in their telling the two Doctors apart.
Sometime later, a bit mud spattered and slightly out of breath, the two reached their destination: a small hut at the end of nowhere.
"Hullo, anyone about?" the Doctor asked bending low to peek into a window badly splattered with swamp gunk.
"Knock, knock?" the little Doctor echoed.
From inside the small dwelling the sounds of bumpings and thumpings grew progressively louder, and a low, very intense grumble increased in volume as it drew closer to the two visitors. The Doctors eyed each other gleefully and began to giggle. The hermit was definitely at home!
The small door slowly opened and the little creature glared up into the faces of those who dared disturb his meditations. The brass hardness of his features softened like quicksilver as he instantly recognized the six foot three one. "To see you again, Doctor, I am pleased!"
The Doctor bowed in deference to the tiny being who stood before them. In this particular instance, the alien's appearance was highly misleading.
The five foot four companion duplicated the bow of courtesy and respect. A companion who was extremely pleased that someone; anyone in the Universe over ten years of age was shorter than she was.
The wizened warrior looked momentarily puzzled. Gallifreyan? yes, he could feel her twin hearts thump-thumpings even at this distance from her. The Doctor's companion? yes, of course, but an additional thing. The matching garments perhaps a clue? After further contemplation the old Teacher said with total assurance, "Your wife, Doctor."
"Yes, the Doctor beamed proudly.
"Thoughts of the deepest affections of you uppermost on her mind."
The Doctor nodded. "And echoed in mine."
The Teacher nodded. "Still, something more," the ancient knight pondered, tapping his spindly fingertips to his nearly non-existent lips.
"Oh, yes Teacher," the female companion bowed once again. "Much, much more."
The alien reached up and gently took her chin, looking deeply into the soft, expressive velvet eyes. He raised a quizzical brow at the seemingly impossibility, and yet, this discovered 'fact' would not go away.
Turning towards the Doctor the Master Knight's face wrinkles deepened further. "A personna of your own self, Doctor?"
The Doctor was totally delighted.
His companion however stood silent stunned her mouth unladylike agape.
The Doctor shook his head and chuckled. "Close your mouth, Doctor. You're causing a BIT of a draft."
Wordlessly the little Doctor obeyed.
Turning to the alien the Doctor smiled. "Yes, Teacher, my own self! But how ever did you guess? It usually requires many hours of explanation, and then we are seldom believed."
"Teacher felt only one mind, although two stood before me. Therefore the apparent two must in reality be but one. Do come in the Doctor Strange, and the Doctor even Stranger, for we have many stories to exchange, no?"
"We have many stories to exchange, yes, Teacher!" the taller Doctor replied most emphatically, bending low and taking his companions hand leading her into the hermit's hut.
The Doctors had attempted to make themselves as comfortable as possible sitting on cushions on the floor, when the Doctor decided to remove his cap. Doing so he realized because of his position of sitting on his coat pockets he couldn’t reach his coat pockets. What to do? Ah ha! Turning to the present companion and future self he flopped it down on her face.
"But why?" the Teacher asked, bringing his guests a splendid tray of piled-high sweets. "Why did Rassilon change you into a female?" The wizened head slowly shook. "True, I realize that Lord Rassilon is an engineer par none, but that does not give a clue as to the why of it?"
"So far, that is a secret Rassilon has kept to himself," came the little Doctor's muffled reply from beneath the Doctor’s fuzzy hat. Removing the Russian cap from her face, she tucked it into a pocket of her leather coat, continuing on then very solemnly," We have only been told it is for some future, well defined purpose, Teacher."
Turning towards the Doctor the little Doctor’s soft hazel eyes began to glisten playfully. "As well as for the always present bedevilment’s and delight."
The Doctor gazed down at the little Doctor lying next to his lap and silently shook his head. "A ‘billzillion’ delights," he amended, very ungentlemanly stealing a portion of her catchwords.
"But two personnas of the same Time Lord, travelling the same time stream together, Doctor?" the Teacher insisted as the Doctors' eyes returned to him. "Is this not an infringement on your own First Law of Time?"
"It might be," the little Doctor interjected nodding. Folding her cap she placed it safely in her coat. " . . . Were it not for the fact that this is not as it appears, namely the fourth personna of the one called Dokk-tor!" Her eyes travelled upward and backwards to the companion and her face broke out into a wide tooth filled grin. "This is The Clone," she informed, very ominously.
"Must you tell all, seventh personna of we … us?" the Doctor griped, glaring menacingly down at his tiny annoying flea. Whereupon he began to slowly tighten the long scarf wound about her slender neck.
"But a clone would lack permanence," the old Teacher argued, half to himself. He was by now quite puzzled.
The little Doctor sulked, freeing herself from the tightened scarf. "Rassilon obviously overcame that obstacle too, Teacher. Why, this one's already well past a hundred, aren't you, my love and former self?"
"Yes, my love and future self," the Doctor nodded soberly.
"And you feel just fine, right, ol' chap?"
The Doctor thumped his chest. "Yes, left, ol' bean. Seems to be holding up quite well, quite well."
The Teacher shook his head; he was not convinced. True, Rassilon was the greatest thinker and achiever Gallifrey had ever produced, but the same laws of Physics as anyone else bound even Rassilon. Suddenly the Teacher grinned. It was simple. Obviously, Rassilon had not shared everything with the two Doctors. And, perhaps, what Rassilon had told them was not one hundred per cent truthful. The Time Lords were known throughout the Universe for their deviousness, and the College of Prydonians, more so than the other eleven colleges lumped together. The old one chuckled to himself, and as Rassilon was a double Prydonian . . .
The ensuing giggles from the two Time Lords, busy with their eternal, perpetual teasing, brought the Teacher back to the present.
The old warrior smiled broadly. "Why Doctor, what ever are you trying to do?" he inquired of the female.
"Consume a jelly baby!" the little Doctor, exclaimed to the Teacher, grimacing through her clenched teeth, while struggling with the larger and much stronger opponent.
"Why do you prevent her, Doctor?" the Teacher asked the male.
"Because it's an orange one and she jolly well knows all the orange ones are perpetually mine … mine!" the Doctor roared, continuing his battle mock.
Realizing she was in eminent danger of being over come by the Doctor, very soon now anyway, the little Doctor conceded. "OK hawkshaw, here!" she said petulantly, shoving the now squashed candied sweet towards the Doctor's mouth. Only, the little Doctor's aim was a trifle bit high and the jelly baby wound up lodged in the Doctor's left nostril!
Looking at him first in horror (not all of it totally in jest) her expression began to slowly change, and soon she was laughing uproariously.
With precise, exaggerated movements the Doctor removed her brown spotted handkerchief from her coat pocket and wiped the candy from his face. "What a terrible fate for a jelly baby," he sighed, re-pocketing the soiled linen deeply into the little Doctor's coat pocket.
The Doctor's intense, burning eyes then turned on the primary source of his aggravation. "Doctor, you shall die for this!" he bellowed. Like quicksilver his expression and the menacing tone mellowed. "However, not today, thank you. Your demise requires much thought and very careful consideration over an extremely long span of time."
The little Doctor swallowed hard; she was deep in troubled waters now. Flashing her companion a pathetic, simpering smile it cascaded around an apparently unaffected Doctor.
"Come here . . . sit," the Doctor commanded, gesturing forcefully to a spot in his lap.
Obediently the little Doctor complied without a word. Having no desire to see matters worsen it was wise to just surrender, at least for the present.
With the Doctor's arms lovingly encircling the little Doctor, the two listened wide-eyed and silent as the Teacher patiently began to recount the ancient tales. Were they true or spun of fiction? Yes and no, no and yes. Partly yes, and partly no. It depended upon which story was being related. But it didn't really matter for the Teacher was a master craftsman when it came to either the ancient art of yarn spinning, or the subtle knack of absolute truth telling.
The Time Lords sat mesmerized, spellbound with tales of Dune, and of the spice trade, of the great worms, and of the promise of Dune's messiah.
It was now very near dawn of the second day, and the Teacher had dismissed himself to another part of his house. While the little Doctor, full of the blue, strong, alien wine and mesmeric stories of their host, found herself nodding off in the protective, loving embrace of her alter ego.
Realizing what was in eminence of occurring, the Doctor began to remove his garments. (A service he had graciously provided for his lady several thousand times, in their slightly over one hundred years together.) The spotted tie was placed in his coat pocket. The Doctor next unzipped the zipper of his jumpsuit, and unbuttoned his white shirt. He then placed the little Doctor against the bared skin of his broad chest. The soothing lull of his twin heart's beatings emanating from deep within his chest, probably would have been sufficient to bring about a cycle of sleep then, but the Doctor was never one to take unnecessary chances. Without a sound he moved his index finger to a spot on the little Doctor's left temple over the sight of her causal-nexus gland. A simple telepathic command of ‘rest' put her to sleep hardly before she had time to cover his left nipple with her tiny hand and mutter: "My precious darling . . . my loving, Pi."
"Good-night, Bit," the Doctor whispered, kissing the top of her head.
"She does this often, Doctor?" the Teacher asked reentering the room. His eyes narrowed, realizing he'd just lost half of his audience.
The Doctor chuckled. "Sorry, a weakness of the females of Gallifrey. This Doctor can't stay awake for four short days in a row. Dreadful bother," the Doctor griped, lightly stroking the little Doctor's cheek with his own.
"And you derive no benefits from this arrangement?"
The Doctor grinned sheepishly holding up his index finger and thumb as if to say, ('Well, maybe a little bit.')
"Then let her be," the Teacher admonished. "If it is nature, then it is good."
The Doctor smiled, drawing the little Doctor closer, inhaling deeply her flutterwing, perfumed hair. Yes, it was good. 'Very, very, very, very good, Master,' as K9 was oft heard to say.
"Another lesson, Teacher?" the Doctor gently implored. "Or, perhaps, another tale?"
The old Teacher sighed. "There was a subject I wanted to delve deeper into, one you touched lightly on during your last visit with me.
"And what was that?" the Doctor asked, ever curious.
"Gallifreyan biology," the Teacher said softly, with a very special gleam in his centuries old eyes.
"Biology! What did I say?" the Doctor asked, struggling to remember. Sex was something Gallifreyans were very reluctant to discuss ... even with other Gallifreyans. There was even a time when the Doctor and the little Doctor didn’t . . . The Doctor shook his head, bringing himself back to the present.
The little alien chuckled. "Perhaps more than Doctor intended, due to the free flowing of the wine?"
The Doctor snorted. "I never drink too much! Still . . . what exactly did I go on about?"
The Teacher sighed. "Very little overall, this is why my continued curiosity regarding the subject."
The Doctor became very passive.
The alien's brow furrowed. "The use of Servitors and Fosters primarily in the females of your species?"
The Doctor nodded. He could forgive himself for revealing that specific piece of information.
"The pleasant little custom of Ensconsing?" the host queried. "You mentioned something about ‘enfolding and concealing the Jewel’."
"Ah, yes, a quote from our times of the Black Robes. A very pleasant little custom, indeed," the Doctor amended, nodding. Guess he hadn't managed to embarrass either himself or his race too terribly. What was a generality or two between very old and beloved friends?
"And your disclosure of The Estrus driven cycles of your aggressively tuned females." The little alien’s brows furrowed.
"Aggressive, indeed," the Doctor muttered in zestful agreement.
Sighing, the Teacher continued. "And finally, the," the alien paused for just the right dramatic effect. " . . . The often times, violent cool-down of your submissive males?"
"Sub . . . me submissive? I lied like a dog!" the Doctor began to balk. Then as an aside, quickly apologized, "Sorry K9." His eyes shot back to his host. "Still, my mouth was in motion before my mind was in gear!"
The Teacher chuckled. "To my question left unanswered from the last then?" he asked in a tone of obvious appeasement.
The Doctor nodded. That seemed fair.
"Why do you keep your twin navels when you regenerate?"
"I absolutely refuse to discuss that with an alien!" the Doctor snorted, beginning to blush. "Actually with anyone ... especially pointed-eared aliens!"
The Teacher laughed, his toes curling with his merriment. "Doctor, has anyone told you lately that you were a dreadful waste occupying as much Space, you do, you do?"
"Not since a midget, dwarfed hermit, said that to me ages ago," the Doctor promptly fired back.
"Perhaps it would be safer then," to find a subject you are more comfortable Doctor, with?"
The Doctor nodded, apparently very much under control, once again. "Yes, please," he entreated. Inwardly however the Doctor silently flamed himself for his eternal, perpetual: big mouth, Big Mouth, BIG MOUTH!
"But I fear, time for just one more tale," the Teacher said, sighing. "Very soon my new student will be here, and there are preparations, always." The Teacher thought a long moment. "Captain Kirk and the starship Enterprise," The Teacher beamed, cocking an ear. "You are interested?"
"Tell on," the Doctor softy beseeched him.
By mid-day even the Doctor was beginning to feel a bit drowsy.
Rudely tapping the little Doctor on the nose, he'd decided she'd slept well long enough for the present.
"All right Doctor, wake up," he complained, as be began to put himself back into his garments. "I'm hungry! Fix food!"
"May a crazed Dalek trundle over your scarf!" she mumbled, slowly rousing. "Stinking, rotten, chauvinist pig."
"Without mercy or apology," the Doctor added as if the two had spoken with the same voice, in one breath.
Looking up into the softened features of the Doctor's face, the little Doctor smiled. "Good morning, darling."
"Good morning, starshine," the Doctor echoed.
As they briefly kissed the little Doctor untied the tie the Doctor had just finished tying.
Turning her head the little Doctor repeated her greeting. "Good morning, Teacher."
"Good morning Doctor," the Teacher nodded.
"Ready to fly, my little flutterwing?" the Doctor gently entreated, nipping at her ears.
"Must we go so soon, Doctor?" she pouted.
"Guests, like fish, quickly smell!" the Doctor exhorted.
The little Doctor nodded in agreement. "Indeed, Doctor!" she said zestfully, invoking her pet catch phrase, "And absence makes the nose grow longer!" she quickly interjected, batting at the Doctor's much adored aquiline appendage.
The Doctor's eyes narrowed. "It is time to take you home, when you start quoting Norm, or insulting my nose."
"Norm?" the Teacher asked.
"Norm, for normal," the Doctor went on to explain. "The middle name my companion whomped on the eight personna of us-selves. Already our paths have crossed with Norm's, in spite of the old and venerated Second Law of Time."
The old alien nodded. "A renegade true, at least to the time of the eight Doctor." The ancient Teacher pondered. "Nevertheless I look forward to meeting this Norm person, eventually." The Teacher sighed. "Well, that still gives you about four more regenerations to finally get it right."
As one the Doctors began to sulk.
"But, we must run, Doctor," the Doctor exclaimed all at once, quickly recovering from his down mood. "Teacher is anticipating the arrival of a new student."
The little Doctor brightened, grinning widely. "Truly, Teacher? Once again to become a D. I.?"
"Doctor, Truly," the tiny alien nodded.
"Then we must get out of the way," she agreed. "Your particular type of combat training, when the student progresses that far, requires, room. Much room."
The old Teacher nodded yet again.
Slowly unwinding herself from her companion the little Doctor carefully stood to a slightly bent position, and exited the dwelling of their host. Looking back towards the Doctor she stood erect and smiled. "Coming, ol' thing, ol' chum, ol' Doc?"
Looking up at her the Doctor snarled, still trying to rub life back into his useless, numbed limbs.
Apparantly giving up on that idea, the Time Lord turned over onto his hands and knees, slowly crawling out of the Teacher's home, accompanied by sounds of gentle laughter; laughter from both the companion and the Teacher.
The walk back to the TARDIS was all too brief, for both the visitors and the visited, but the time for good-byes had come.
Gently taking the old Teacher from his shoulders the Doctor placed him safely on firm ground. Turning, he strode towards his patiently waiting still very tilted ‘windmill’. As a matter of fact . . . wasn’t it leaning even more than it was two days ago when the duo had first landed? Perhaps not, the Doctor swiftly reconsidered, perhaps just a trick of the light. At the threshold of the TARDIS the Doctor swivelled back to the Teacher. "Well Teacher, good luck with this new student."
The ancient one nodded. "Doctor, to thank you."
Turning back towards the TARDIS'es threshold the Doctor's brow furrowed. "Luke, did you say?"
The warrior nodded once more.
"We knew a Luke once." The Doctor grinned with his recollection, latching onto his TARDIS key. "Splendid fellow, physician, man of God, even turned his hand to a bit of writing. Remember him, Doctor?"
"Yes, Doctor," the little Doctor said, smiling warmly. "Some even consider him a saint."
"Shall we be off then, terribly older ol’ thing?" the Doctor teased, bumping her shoulder as scrunched down to insert his TARDIS key into the lock.
"Yes, much younger ol' thing," the other Doctor hissed. Her velvet eyes began to snap in their merriment at the prospect of the next adventure. Bending down to the Teacher she lowered her voice. "Actually," she whispered, tapping the side of her head. "I've always thought the old boy was a bit off, you know. But it is oh, so much fun!" Letting loose of the greatly wrinkled hand, she sighed. Would she ever see him again? How the Doctor hated good-byes.
The Teacher nodded for her to join her companion in the TARDIS and not to keep him waiting.
"So long, And thanks for all the Fish, Rabboni-Jedi," the little Doctor said, gently kissing the warrior-knight behind the elegantly pointed ears. "See you sooner!" she promised.
Standing, she made a dash for the TARDIS.
The little alien nodded. Yes, the Doctor would return, one day, in those forms or another. The Gallifreyan always did. Sooner or later: later or sooner.
"Hullo,K9," the two WHO were one said with one voice."Greetings Programs!" K9 replied in his primary voice pattern. "Oooh ... I made a funny ... Master, Mistress," he said with a mechanical chuckle.
"That you did,K9," the Doctor's voice agreed. "So my love, Cassiopeia next?" the Teacher heard the Doctor's voice suggest. "Oh no, my beloved Clone, Florianna!" the little Doctor's voice insisted, with the much enjoyed 'tug of words' continuing as the two moved deeper into the TARDIS.
With a loud pop the TARDIS double doors snapped shut.
The Teacher shook his head in disapproval. He didn't understand what all the fluff was about. They'd more likely than not wind up on Sol-3 in Mutter's Spiral anyway.
The Teacher watched and listened in silence as the battered old police box slowly, and apparently in a great deal of pain, dematerialized before his wise, penetrating eyes. Speaking softly in the deep, gravely baritone of the males of his species, he sought to assure himself.
"The Doctor will return, uh huh, uh, huh. No wonder Yoda love. Yoda love!"
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