16 February 2007

New Companion, Old Earth - Chapter One - Part 1

About half an hour later Saskia suddenly woke up to find the Doctor's hand on her arm.
"You must have dozed off," he told her. "We’re landing."
"On Barcelona?"
"I don’t think so. Come and see." The Doctor walked over to the Console and showed her a screen which gave them a view outside the TARDIS.
"That – that looks like old Earth," said Saskia in surprise.
"It is old Earth," answered the Doctor. "Sometime in the early 20th century."
"Why are we here?"
"I don't know. Let's go and find out." The Doctor pulled on his long brown overcoat over his blue suit and headed out of the TARDIS doors. Saskia took her own long wool coat from the coat stand inside the TARDIS doors and pulled it on, then followed him outside. She consoled herself with the thought that if anyone was about to attack them, she at least would know about it. She knew there was no point in remonstrating with the Doctor - he seemed to have little concept of caution. Or perhaps he just had faith in her empathic abilities. She was still wondering which one it was as she walked out of the TARDIS doors to find the Doctor standing just outside, surveying the alleyway in which they had arrived. He turned to look at her and she saw a fleeting look of pain and regret cross his face. She moved to his side.

"What is it?" she asked directly, guessing the answer, but wondering if he would tell her.
"I still haven't got used to the fact that Rose isn't going to be the one stepping through those doors," he answered, proving that her guess was correct.
"I'm sorry."
"Don't!" he said fiercely.
She raised an eyebrow, puzzled by his tone. "Don't what?"
"Don't apologise for not being Rose, OK? Don't ever do that!"
"Doctor, I wasn't apologising for not being Rose. I was sympathising with your sense of loss and pain."
His shoulders slumped momentarily. "Sorry. I just – "
"It’s OK." She patted his arm. "I do understand. I know what you're feeling in here," she tapped her head, "and in here," she touched her heart. "I lost both my parents and went through all the denial and anger and hating the world that are part of the grieving process."
"I don't hate the world," he said quietly.
"I know you don't. If you did, you'd still be sitting in that ship of yours, out in the Time vortex, instead of taking on the villains and the monsters. But you are grieving, even if you're trying to keep your emotions under control. No doubt if you'd picked someone who wasn’t an empath to be your Companion, you'd get away with your pretence, but I can see right through it." She clasped his cool hand in hers and spoke directly into his mind. "The three of us will get through this: you, me and the TARDIS, together we'll get through this."
He squeezed her hand. "Thank you."
She squeezed his hand in return, then asked aloud, "Where are we?"
"I don't know. Let's find out."

Letting go of her hand, he walked down the alleyway to a small building that Saskia was unable to identify, and went inside. Saskia followed him and found a long room with a low ceiling, tables and chairs arranged in small groups, and a long counter, behind which were shelves full of bottles and a man with a friendly face.
"It's a pub," the Doctor told her quietly.
"Oh." Saskia had heard of pubs, but this was the first time she had ever been in one. "It's quiet," she observed.
"That's because it's still early. Most people are at work at 11 o'clock in the morning."
"I see."
The Doctor moved over to the counter, which she realised must be the bar, and spoke quietly to the man standing there, then came back to her side. "We're in Oxford and it's 1936, which explains the lack of motor traffic outside."
Saskia nodded her understanding, then tilted her head to one side, as if listening.
The Doctor noticed. "Can you hear something?"
"No, not hear, more sense, although it's quite faint."
"Let's go back outside then." The Doctor left the pub and waited on the pavement, whilst Saskia mentally cast around for whatever was fluttering at the edge of her mind.
"It's no good," she said, sounding frustrated. "I can't pinpoint it."
"So we'll walk around until you can," he said. He set off slowly along the road. "Stop me if it gets stronger."

They walked slowly along the wide road towards the city centre, passing Pusey House, St Cross College and Black Friars, all of which Saskia noted half-consciously. Suddenly she grabbed the Doctor's arm. "It's stronger over there," she said, pointing to some buildings set back from the road. They stopped in front of a three-storey building.
"Institutio Tayloriana," read Saskia. "The Taylorian Institute. A library or museum, I suppose." They ran up the steps inside the gateway.
"Not this one," Saskia said as the Doctor was about to pull open the door. "It's the next building over."
They went down some more steps and crossed a courtyard towards some imposing doors set between four Ionic columns. They went inside, the Doctor pulling a battered leather wallet from his coat pocket. Saskia knew it contained some psychic paper that would convince its reader that the Doctor was whomever he claimed to be in any given situation. He had pulled it out and shown it to her, that first morning they had met, and she still hadn't told the Doctor that it hadn't actually worked on her.
Inside the building they both saw a sign welcoming them to the Ashmolean Museum. Saskia grinned at the Doctor, who grinned back, both of them remembering their previous encounter at a Museum.
"Can you speak with a Scottish accent?" the Doctor asked quietly.
Saskia nodded, wondering why he was asking.
"Then we'll tell them we're Scottish scholars, and we'd better say your name is Saskia Stewart, as that's a more Scottish name."
"OK. Just don't forget, this time, that you are Scottish, and go lapsing back into your Southern accent."
"What do you – ? Oh. Oh right, no I won't forget," the Doctor said, reassuringly, but grinning nonetheless.
"Good," Saskia said. "I don't want to be exiled from these shores."
"Well Queen Victoria's not around this time, is she?" he answered cheekily, then approached a man sitting behind a desk. The man watched them approach, seeing a tall man wearing a long, expensive brown coat over a blue pinstripe suit; the freckled face and beaming smile made him look younger than his real age and gave him the air of a man in love with life. Beside him was a tall young woman wearing a long black coat similar to the man's, dark trousers and a cream-coloured linen shirt. Her expression was more watchful and wary than the man's, which surprised the clerk. Then she smiled at the clerk as the man introduced himself, and he forgot about her watchful expression.

"Hello. I'm Doctor Jamie McCrimmon, and this is my colleague, Saskia Stewart. We're visiting town for a few days and we're interested in seeing any recent acquisitions the Museum has made."
Saskia had to swallow an impulse to laugh in surprise and delight at the Doctor's perfectly executed Scottish lilt.
"Certainly Doctor," answered the clerk. "Are you at all familiar with the Museum?"
"We are not."
"Then I'll take you up to see the new acquisitions myself," he said. He guided them up two imposing flights of stairs and into a large room, talking earnestly to the Doctor as they went. Saskia was listening with only half an ear as something was tugging insistently at her empathic sense. Her attention was drawn to a display case at the back of the room. Something in it was giving off a very strong signal. She hoped the clerk wouldn't stay talking for too long as she was desperate to speak to the Doctor about the object.
"Well, we mustn't keep you," the Doctor said pleasantly at that moment. "We'll come and find you if we have any questions."
The clerk shook hands with them both, then bustled off.

"Doctor," Saskia said urgently. "That device at the back, the round silvery-blue one, it's giving off a strong signal of some sort."
"I thought there was something in here," he answered. "I could feel a sort of prickle myself."
Saskia looked at him in surprise.
"I'm slightly telepathic myself," he said in answer to her unspoken question. "Just enough to know when others are nearby. It used to annoy Rose that she could never sneak up on me."
"Oh!" Saskia didn't ask why Rose would want to sneak up on the Doctor. "Do you know where this device has come from, where it originated, I mean?"
"No, I can't say that I've ever seen anything like it before." As he spoke, the Doctor pulled out his Sonic Screwdriver and unlocked the display case. He removed the artefact and began examining it, playing the beam of the Sonic Screwdriver over it. The he licked it, raising his eyebrows at Saskia's look. She knew from reading Rose's Diary that he had a habit of licking the things that interested him, but it was still a surprise. She didn't comment, however, instead she read the card that lay beside the spot where the device had been displayed.
"It says here that the device was found in New Inn Hall Street, on the eastern side, during excavations, opposite number 27. Apparently it was found in the old City ditch," she told the Doctor.
"The City ditch?" he answered. "That's going back a long way into Oxford's past. I suppose no one had dug there before, to unearth this." He returned the device to the display case, which he re-locked before pocketing his Sonic Screwdriver again. "Let's go and look at the spot where it was found, shall we?"
Saskia nodded, rather distractedly.
"What is it?" the Doctor asked.
"I think that thing is a receiver of some kind, and that something else is transmitting a signal to it," she answered. "Like a homing signal."
"We'll have to see if we can track backwards from it, then," the Doctor said.

They left the display room and went back downstairs. The Doctor spoke briefly to the clerk, who was back at his desk. Saskia heard him asking where they would find New Inn Hall Street. She followed the Doctor out of the Museum and onto the street.
"Fortunately for us, it's not very far away," he told her as they crossed the street opposite a large building bearing a sign that read 'The Randolph'. They walked briskly past the Oxford Playhouse and turned left into Gloucester Street, which cut across to join the busier George Street. Saskia found herself noting the names automatically, although she didn't expect to have to find her own way back to the TARDIS.
"There you are," the Doctor said, pointing at a sign in the street that ran at right-angles to the one they were in.
"New Inn Hall Street," Saskia read aloud.
"Now we just need number 27," the Doctor said cheerfully. "Apparently it's near the end of Saint Michael's Street."


Mefinx said...

I can't help feeling that if he'd met Saskia instead of Martha (not that I dislike Martha, far from it) he'd have been rather less of a mess now.

Thought your Park Bench comments on WoM really hit the nail on the head.


aka http://sensiblecat.livejournal.com

Michele said...

Interesting. Personally I love Martha - but I wish he'd travelled with Donna after Rose then we'd have been spared the unrequited love nonsense that spoilt so much of S3.

Thought your Park Bench comments on WoM really hit the nail on the head.