All's well that ends well, that's what the Doctor always said. Ok, he didn't say it personally, and it wasn't even his own particular catchphrase, but he liked it. It suited today. Ok, things hadn't started out well. There'd been a woman in a bakery with alien technology, which had lead to a bunch of chasing and time in the sewers, and meeting a delightful young man named Robin who was ten and three quarters, going on eighty. The boy had managed to talk said aliens down from their carbohydrate-infused takeover of mankind with nothing but an angry, grumpy 'get off my lawn' speech and the careful application of too much fizzy soda on important alien technology. It had been utterly brilliant. Mad. But brilliant.
He'd been half-tempted to ask the tyke to tag along, then he remembered child protective services frowned upon such things, and also all the rows with Susan over everything from food replication to what he should do with her snotty know-it-all teachers came to mind, and he was far too old for screaming matches with adolescents.
With a self-satisfied grin, he opened the TARDIS door, wondering if he dared show his face on the planet Barcelona again. He liked the cheese, but they might still be sore over the last revolt he--
Why was there a man in a long dark coat stroking his console? "Um... excuse me...?"
The man turned around, all limbs and hair and cheekbones. For a brief moment he hoped it was one of his future regenerations, something he further entertained when the bloke gave a curt, unamused little smile. Nut it wasn't a future him. He'd have known. "This is private property." Lame. But all he could come up with, given the circumstance. "And how exactly did you get in here? It's not like I left the door wide open with a sign saying 'creepy strangers, enter here.'"
The man's cheek twitched with amusement. Probably the closest he came to a smile. "Dimensionally transcendental. I assume it also travels in time and space?"
"Yeah. Right. how did you get in here?" He'd locked the door behind him. And not even the hordes of Ghengas Khan--
The man held up a small lock picking set. "Dimensionally transcendental locking mechanism. Difficult to beat, not impossible. It was actually FUN."
The Doctor folded his arms over his chest, caught somewhere between intrigue and annoyance. "RIGHT. OK. Fun's over. Just who the hell ARE you?"
The man clasped his arms behind his back, satisfied that he'd confounded the loo box's owner. "Sherlock Holmes."
The Doctor rushed up to him with a grin, grabbing his arm, yanking it from where it was clasped behind him, and then pumping his hand vigorously. "I am a huge fan. A super-huge fan. And of Doctor Watson's. Is he with you? Can we go get him? The one story, that Scandal in Bohemia he wrote, it was always my favorite, with the Adler lady, and the American spy, and... and... OOH. NO, the one with the hound. But don't drug people. That's bad. Apparently you're not supposed to drug or experiment on your friends. I may have been told. Once or twice. Or, or. RASSILON'S GHOST, The Valley of Fear. I love the American West. Oh wait, what year is it? That hasn't happened yet. I don't know anything about it, ignore me completely--just take a lot of water with you in that silly old caravan. Dehydration is a real issue for humans..."
He had been shaking the other man's hand this whole time and finally, Sherlock Holmes tugged his hand free, wiping both sides on the lapel of his coat. "Pleasure, I'm sure. So, am I correct to assume that this is, in fact, a time machine, and that you are, indeed, not-human."
The grin on the Doctor's face somehow spread wider. He adjusted his bow tie, then gestured to the ship around him. "TARDIS, Time and Relative Dimension in Space, but you already guessed that. I didn't pick the name, my granddaughter did, but it sorta stuck. I call her Sexy. Me, Time Lord, last of; as of my last birthday I was... oh, nine hundred and thirty-seven. I think. Maybe. Human and Gallifreyan years don't line up exactly, and I lie about my age a lot." His hands waved in front of Sherlock's face in uncontrollable excitement. "WE ARE GOING TO HAVE SO MUCH FUN."
And it was fun. Or, at least, amusing. Sherlock had some time to kill. He'd only 'died' a few weeks ago, and he had to lay low for at last a month or two, by Mycroft's account, before Moriarty's network would put its guard down long enough for him to get to the difficult work of dismantling the network.
Quite frankly, laying low was difficult, mostly because it was so damned boring. Mycroft couldn't funnel any more information to him about the the network because his brother was certain there was a mole in his office. Which left him with little to do, but hide and wait, and make his own amusement.
Which was how he ended up on a website that tracked supernatural phenomenon. It had taken him all of four hours to debunk everything on the site, except for the case of the Phantom Police Public Call Box
It took another few days, but he had amassed quite a file. Everything from the sudden reassignment of Sarah Jane Smith, an investigative reporter, to UNIT in the 1970s, to the year-long disappearance of a Rose Tyler seven years ago--all tied to the blue box.
And lacking anything better to do...he started stalking CCTV feeds. Four whole days of it until he found what he was looking for--and he almost didn't see it at all. There was something about the grainy black and white feed that made him want to focus on the fuzz in the picture, not the image itself. Which set off a million beautiful red flags that made him concentrate still harder, until he saw it, in an alley, not far from the bolt hole he had been confined to for days upon days.
And oh, it had been Christmas, New Years and some other holiday with presents all rolled into one.
The dimensionally transcendental lock on the thing had been utterly wonderful. He'd lost an entire file inside the thing before he'd figured out how to manipulate the locking mechanism with a bit of cooking spray and a handful of toothpicks. If he weren't fairly certain he was dealing with alien technology, he'd have demanded immediately they install one on the front door at Baker Street, if nothing other than to annoy Mycroft...
Then he remembered that wasn't his life any more. There was no annoying Mycroft because he deserved it. There was only relying on his brother for resources, information and protection in a way that made him more than a little nauseous. There was no more Baker Street. There was spending every spare minute wondering what John was doing at that same exact moment, resisting the urge to text to say he was bored, or ask an impertinent question about the liquefaction of margarine in a gut wound of a week-old corpse.
Wandering around what looked like a control center of the bigger-on-the-inside box, he did his best to put all those thoughts out of his head. They wouldn't do him any good. And this whole affair was just what he needed to distract him both from everything that had been, and everything he still had to do (and couldn't get started with yet). And oh, he thought that center column was brilliant. An amazing, humming work of art and engineering that pulsed with life. It oscillated between a high and a low tone, the latter of which seemed to be calling to him in some odd way.
And then the odd tweedy man that was all hair and cheekbones and gangly appendages arrived, more curious than alarmed that someone was invading his space, then suddenly ratcheting his arm, going on at an abnormal speed about John's overly-romanticized and slightly tawdry write-ups of their cases on his completely unimaginative blog (that, despicably, got more daily hits on his own website that contained all of the facts necessary for a slightly intelligent person to derive adequate satisfaction from the resolution of each case--to hell with John Watson's artistic license) including a reference to something that had not happened. But the tweedy man spoke with such conviction that he had to assume that his suspicion about the box's time travel capabilities was completely founded.
That had been a month ago, at least by his own reckoning. Time travel did mess with those sorts of mundane record keeping, he was learning.
And it had been brilliant. Exactly the sort of distraction he had been looking for. Like right now--there was absolutely no room to contemplate the raw agony in John's voice during that terrible phone call from the roof of St. Barts--not when he was running full-tilt through a purple-tinged snow, toward the police box and away from the very large, very hairy humanoid-digger machine hybrid currently barreling toward him.
He got sidetracked from his intended goal when a hot bolt of energy shot past him, grazing his cheek. Diving behind the nearest stationary object--a boulder that had been merged with a tree, he rubbed the scorched flesh on his cheek. Another shot came dangerously close to his head. "At any point in time now!" he shouted behind him as the furry monstrosity clomped closer, rumbling the ground.
"Working on it!" the Doctor yelled in a high-pitched panic. "Running while recalibrating isn't exactly..."
The bolder began shattering into wood splinters and rock dust. "Less talking, more recalibrating!"
A few energy bolts later and Sherlock was not behind the bolder any longer--he was simply crouching in a pile of saw dust and pulverized rock. He glanced around himself, looking for some means of protecting himself.
The hairy mechanical arm pulled back for a final blow, and Sherlock darted between it legs just as the Doctor aimed his sonic screwdriver at the memory center of the creature and pressed one of the buttons. It let out a high pitched hum and it deactivated, crumpling to the ground just as Sherlock scrambled to his feet next to the Doctor, slightly breathless.
"See, there, that wasn't so tough." he slapped the other man on the shoulder with a toothy smile.
"That wasn't so tough?" The Doctor pointed the sonic screwdriver at him. "I had to try eighty-seven different settings, while running from the Palace. Did you really need to tell the emperor that his daughter was pregnant by the court jester? I mean, I say a lot of inappropriate things. But when they're deciding whether to behead us or not is usually a bad idea to start being...deductiony." He waved his fingers in front of Sherlock in annoyance, still huffing and puffing. "And, we didn't even get the Crystal of Sannadara, the WHOLE THING we went in there for."
Grinning wildly, Sherlock pulled something long and thin and iridescent from the breast pocket of his coat, flipping it in his hand. "Snatched it when the jester was attempting to explain the mechanics of inter-species reproduction."
The Doctor slapped both of the other man's cheeks. "I could kiss you sometimes! But giant chickens on a pogo stick, a little warning!"
Sherlock laughed. "Like you warned me about the Shark-people?"
The Doctor shrugged innocently. "You got there, eventually. And no one needs a pinkie toe anyway."
"I liked my pinkie toe! I was quite attached to it! We've been together all my life!"
They both laughed, wandering back to the TARDIS, tossing the crystal back and forth between them, like a hot potato. No time to think about John Watson or home. There was just no room for it. He had to fill up the empty space in his brain, otherwise the last words his friend said to him would creep in, and he wouldn't be able to go on.
The Doctor unlocked the TARDIS' door, with a proper key and everything, and he followed the other man inside. "Whine, whine whine. It's always the same with you. 'Lets not make trouble with the Cybermen, why are we diving into this river of magma... I NEED MY LITTLE TOE."
Closing the door behind them, Sherlock frowned. John would have told him about the Shark-people.
"Booooooored," Sherlock moaned from where he'd thrown himself dramatically on the control room floor. "Hurry up already."
Below him, the Doctor dug around in the panel array beneath the main floor. Something sparked and he yelped. "Well, I need to fix the landing stabilizer before we materialize anywhere, or things will go tits up. So just shut up and let me do this."
"You've been doing it for HOURS. I bet I could have figured it out by now."
The Doctor's goggle-clad head appeared above deck. "No, you couldn't. You're very clever, and I appreciate that about you, but I have been fixing her for over seven hundred years and I think I have a knack for it."
Sherlock rested his head on his hand. "Then why haven't you fixed it yet? I think you have no idea what you're doing."
"Oh, and you're going to have a better clue than me!"
"I could fly her better too, I bet. Without the horrible knocking noise every time she sets down somewhere. You act like it is all big and complicated but I think it's just an act to cover for how you don't actually know what you are doing."
The Doctor reached up with a gloved hand and tore the goggles off his face, and with the other, pointed the welding torch at Sherlock. "I know exactly what I'm doing."
Sherlock flopped back onto his back, staring up at the TARDIS' coffered ceiling. "Prove it."
The Doctor scowled. "I'm not falling into this trap."
Waving his hand flippantly, Sherlock closed his eyes. "What trap could I possibly have lain before the Great and Mighty Time Lord, oh look at me, I see all of time and space?"
"You're bored, and you're trying to goad me into a fight. Now, if you will excuse me. I have a ship to fix." He slapped the goggles back over his eyes and ducked his head below. "This is one thing Doctor Watson definitely left out of the blog posts!"
"What, that I can probably drive your transcindentally-inclined time machine better than you can?"
"That you're an insufferable wanker!" The last was muffled and the Doctor descended deeper into the control column. A second later, there was another loud zapping sound, and a yelp from the Time Lord.
Sherlock's grin was unnecessarily self-satisfied.
"Ambalon, fifteenth planet around the fifteenth sun in the fifteenth-ordered solar system from the center of the galaxy. Or at least, that's what the Ambalonians tell themselves. They also believe that their god, Cuuran is the keeper of interstellar travel. So take from that what you will. Now, if you will be so kind as to get your head out of that book..."
His companion never looked up from the thick tome on his lap.
The Doctor sighed. "Sherlock...Planet with sky perpetually on fire... It's all chemically and sciency and things..."
And still the detective paid him absolutely no notice.
"Seriously. I give you the sun, the moon, the stars... all of time and space...what the hell could POSSIBLY be more interesting than ME?" He came around behind Sherlock and looked at the text. It was entirely in Gallifreyan. "You can't even READ that! It's four dimensional!
Sherlock finally looked up from the page. "One: I am far more interesting than you are. Two: It's the manual for this ship. Three: I taught myself how to read Gallifreyan while you spent four days lost in the jungles down in the fifteenth basement. I told you to leave a breadcrumb trail."
"The monkeys ATE the breadcrumbs!"
"NOT LITERAL BREADCRUMBS!"
The Doctor reached around Sherlock and flipped a page. "I'll be damned. It IS the TARDIS manual. SO THIS is what it looks like!"
"Why am I not surprised you've never read it?"
"Manuals never teach you anything useful. Beside, I figured it was some stuffy Time Lord equivalent of the OED, and I've been using it to prop open a very heavy door in the library for the last six hundred years. My goodness. Why in the name of Rassilon would they print it on actual PAPER? Do you know how many trees must have died for this thing?" He inspected the spine. TARDIS Manual, Type 40. Read Before Use. "No, wait, you'll actually try to calculate it out."
"Hush. I'm reading the bit about the parking break."
"So, do you want to see the skies of fire or what?"
"Why did I think this would be fun again?"
The Doctor waved the Dalek's dismembered eye stock around like a scepter, or a weapon. "When I said that something wasn't right, and that we should poke it with a stick, I didn't mean literally."
"Well, why did you say it, if you didn't mean it."
Staring at the stock for a moment, the Doctor sighed and then tossed it away. "You know, I think you possibly like trouble even more than I do." Gone was the enthusiasm from early in their time together. Now was just a weary sadness. He'd been told once or twice that he was running away from himself, and suddenly, he understood what they were saying. "Sherlock, why are you here?"
The other man didn't say anything. He just looked up at the solid wood door of the TARDIS as he slid his key into the lock and opened the door. Going inside, he held the door open and the Doctor followed him.
Hanging back near the door, the Doctor watched Sherlock race around the console, to the parking break, releasing it. "Coordinates?"
Leaning against the door, the Doctor crossed his arms over his chest. "London, two months after you left... if you don't answer me right now."
"Randomizer it is." The detective slapped the controls around until the center of the console began wheezing as it rose and fell.
The Doctor sighed. "You know you have to go back eventually. There're certain things in history that HAVE to happen."
Sherlock looked away absently. "I have mold spores that I took from the walls of the temple. I'd like to have a look at them before we land somewhere." Then suddenly the detective was glaring at him angrily. "Look, I know. You don't think I know? I know what is coming next. It's going to take a long time, it's going to be very difficult, and I'm not exactly looking forward to going back to it, ok? Can't I just have this? For a little while, maybe? God, you are an annoying man."
They both stared at the center column for a moment, letting the echo of Sherlock's fury die against the buttresses and walls. "If it's any consolation, you know already that you succeed, and you get to go home, when it is all done. You know how it all turns out."
Sherlock snorted. "And until then...I just go on. Doing the work my brother's entire legion of 'associates' could not accomplish. The dirty work of dismantling Moriarty's empire. Alone."
The Doctor contemplated that for a bit, unsure of what he could say to make it any easier. "Well...yes. I suppose. I think I make a very poor substitute for Doctor Watson."
A thin smile tugged at Sherlock's lips. "You don't make a poor substitute for many things, but yes. You sort of have been." He held up a hand, realizing what he was saying. "No--I don't mean... It's been brilliant. Really. I could do this forever. In another life."
"A life before John Watson and Baker Street." The Doctor nodded, understanding all too well the many divergent paths a life could take. "Of course, I'd have probably handed you over to the Daleks myself, back then. From his stories, you sounded...insufferable."
There was a fondness in Sherlock's far away gaze. "Are you saying he's tamed me? I suppose. Or at least I learned how to put biohazard warnings on anything in the refrigerator capable of killing a man."
"Look at it this way...the sooner you get on with that Moriarty business, the sooner you can get home to YOUR doctor."
Sherlock actually laughed at that. "You're just mad I fly this thing better than you do."
The Doctor glared at him indignantly. "You keep saying that, but half the time we end up just as lost as when I'm flying her."
"So you admit you get lost."
"No. You get lost. When I fly her, the TARDIS just has other plans." But there's a familiarity and warmth behind the jabs. "Still, I can't believe a twenty-first century Earth human managed to teach himself Gallifreyan in four days. That's pretty bloody impressive, if you think about it."
Sherlock waved a hand dismissively. "It was merely a code, and you gave me the cypher ages ago when you explained the lettering for the controls in my first week. And if you must know, it took longer than four days, it was more like a month to crack it, given the fourth dimensional properties. I just became fluent in the four days you were lost in the basement."
The Doctor let out a chuckle. "Still...it's been a pleasure. An interesting break. To have someone here who could keep up. I've had my fair share of scientists and learned individuals pass through...but you were always spot on. Always asking the right questions."
Leaning against one of the rails, Sherlock grew pensive for a few moments. "Sounds like this is my last hurrah. It couldn't last forever. I knew that. But it was nice, not to think about it for a while."
There was a gentle knocking as the ship rematerialized from the time vortex and another as it stabilized. Sherlock really was pretty decent at flying her. Almost as good as a certain curly-haired beauty that he had an appointment with to kill him very shortly. "You mean not think about HIM."
"I know I did the right thing. They would have had him killed. STILL would, if I just go showing up back at home before I end this whole thing. But..." the young man sighed. "At some point sentiment crept in. I don't like it."
The Doctor shrugged. "I don't know. It's kind of nice to indulge in, once in a while."
Sherlock groaned when he looked down at the controls. "I'm sure you know exactly where we are. I guess that means while I'm off trying to resurrect myself from the dead, you're going to go off and get yourself killed."
There was something dark and murky in the Doctor's eyes. "Some things can't be rewritten."
"I suppose the American west is as good of a place as any. Might as well go out with a view, I say." But Sherlock stopped, studying the Doctor. "But you have a plan, don't you? I fully expect that if you are going to fool not just your friends, but all of time and space, it's going to be a little more complex than just orchestrating a fall and conveniently having a coroner on hand to declare you dead."
Shrugging, the Doctor stepped away from the door. "The TARDIS doesn't always take us where we want to go. Sometimes she takes us where we need to be. And yes. I have to say your little stunt has...inspired me. I just need to work out a few of the logistics."
Sherlock casually tied the scarf around his neck. "Well, if you're still planning, and time isn't exactly of the essence... you could, I don't know. Come with me."
The Doctor laughed silently. "Usually that's my line."
"No, really. You could. It'd be brilliant. International intrigue, danger, criminal masterminds...something for everyone, really."
"I don't know." He waved a hand. "I'm more into things that go bump in the night. Creepy crawly things under the stairs... things that give sane men nightmares..."
Tugging on his gloves, Sherlock grinned. "Your code name can be Double-oh-seven and my brother is going to lend me a really cool car."
The Doctor dashed past Sherlock and turned around, pointing a finger at the detective. "I have a tux I've been saving for this..." He took a few more steps toward the corridor that lead to the wardrobe before turning back. "And I'm not taking notes, and I'm not blogging this."
Sherlock laughed and waved the Doctor off. No, only John got to do that. And the Doctor was right--the sooner this was started, the sooner it would end, and the sooner he'd get back to where he was supposed to be, with his proper partner, in his proper time and place. And maybe with the Doctor working on it as well, he'd get home all the faster.
And until then... well, this world didn't have any shark people to forget to warn the Doctor about, but there were plenty of people who were sharks. And the Doctor still owed him two toes and a bit of earlobe.
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